How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Phoenix Arizona
Once 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 select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The most versatile health professional in any Arizona healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Phoenix medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated 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 school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Phoenix AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected 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. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Phoenix AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might 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 reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Phoenix AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Phoenix AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Phoenix AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Phoenix medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Phoenix Medical Assistant College
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is 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 get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Phoenix Arizona.