How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training School Near Maricopa Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Maricopa AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Maricopa AZ medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Maricopa AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Maricopa AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Maricopa AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Maricopa AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Maricopa AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Maricopa AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Maricopa medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Maricopa AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Maricopa Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Maricopa Arizona.