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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Program Near New River Arizona

New River Arizona CMA holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near New River AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

New River Arizona medical assistant holding door for patient using crutches

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the New River AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Courses

New River Arizona CMA reading to senior patient in skilled nursing facilityIn contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of New River AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential New River AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded 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 have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

New River Arizona young woman attending online medical assistant trainingThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in New River AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to New River AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective New River AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn 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 of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with New River AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the New River healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the New River AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near New River AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Train to Be a Certified Medical Assistant in New River

Enroll in the Right New River Medical Assistant School

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in New River Arizona.




 

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