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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona CMA carrying patient chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Job of Medical Assistants

Phoenix Arizona CMA holding door for man using crutches

Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Phoenix AZ medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.

Medical Assistant Courses

Phoenix Arizona medical assistant reading to senior patient in nursing homeIn contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Phoenix AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed 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 two year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Phoenix AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Phoenix Arizona young woman attending online medical assistant classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Phoenix AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as 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 students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Phoenix AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Phoenix AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn 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 evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma 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 acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Phoenix AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Phoenix medical 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 very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Phoenix 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify 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 any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

How to Be a Certified Medical Assistant in Phoenix

Enroll in the Right Phoenix Medical Assistant College

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information 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 upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on 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 on-campus or online 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 ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phoenix Arizona.




 

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