How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Course Near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners 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:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Oro Valley AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Oro Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit 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 extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Oro Valley AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Oro Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Oro Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Oro Valley healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Oro Valley Medical Assistant School
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley Arizona.