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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Phoenix Arizona medical assistant holding door for patient using crutches

If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in Phoenix AZ clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.

Medical Assistant Courses

Phoenix Arizona CMA reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityCompared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, 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 school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 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 typically take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 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 junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial 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. Among the most popular and perhaps 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Phoenix Arizona young female taking online medical assistant coursesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Phoenix AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Phoenix AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Phoenix AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Phoenix AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Phoenix health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer 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 affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Train to Be a Certified Medical Assistant in Phoenix

Enroll in the Right Phoenix Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days 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 choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type 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 best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phoenix Arizona.




 

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