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How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Course Near Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix Arizona medical assistant holding patient recordsOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Function of Medical Assistants

Phoenix Arizona CMA greeting man on 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 Training Courses

Phoenix Arizona CMA reading to senior man in assisted living facilityCompared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Phoenix AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Phoenix AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Phoenix Arizona young female taking online medical assistant trainingThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Phoenix AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges 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 need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, 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 accepted organizations 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Phoenix AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring 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 about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Phoenix AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Phoenix health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small 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 couple of classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

How to Become a CMA in Phoenix

Enroll in the Right Phoenix Medical Assistant School

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 picking the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Phoenix Arizona.




 

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