How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near New River Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near New River AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Duties of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Arizona healthcare settings, concentrated in New River outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many New River AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible New River AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably 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 have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in New River AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to New River AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective New River AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with New River AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the New River medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify 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 college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near New River AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right New River Medical Assistant College
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in New River Arizona.