How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Program Near New River Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near New River AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
A Medical Assistant is a highly important and varied position within the Arizona healthcare field. Broadly speaking, a Medical Assistant is responsible for working alongside New River physicians and nurses to provide support in administrative and clinical duties. In smaller practices, Medical Assistants will typically be involved in both administrative and clinical work. While in larger practices, Medical Assistants will often be devoted to one area or another and be highly specialized in their individual duties. Whatever role a Medial Assistant plays, it is vital to the overall organization and central to timely and appropriate care of patients.
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many New River AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible New River AZ medical employers simply will not employ 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) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in New River AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to New River AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining 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 school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with New River AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the New River health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the New River AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings 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 school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right New River Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in New River Arizona.