How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Phoenix Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare 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 go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few 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 role of a medical assistant and the type 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 Phoenix 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 Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Phoenix AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element involving 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Phoenix AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Phoenix AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Phoenix AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, 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 mentioned previously, 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 Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need 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 means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Phoenix AZ area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Phoenix healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Phoenix Medical Assistant College
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate 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 online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Phoenix Arizona.