How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Paradise Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Paradise Valley AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by checking out 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, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. 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 talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Paradise Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities 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 tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Paradise 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 generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Paradise Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Paradise Valley AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Paradise Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Paradise Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in 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 means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Paradise Valley AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Paradise Valley medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Paradise Valley AZ area and find out 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 health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe 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 school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Paradise Valley AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Paradise Valley Medical Assistant School
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Paradise Valley Arizona.