How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School Near Phoenix Arizona
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 important issues as well. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, 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 program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Phoenix AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded 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 be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Phoenix AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Phoenix AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, 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 College Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, 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 Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine 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 want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Phoenix AZ area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Phoenix health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need 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 conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Phoenix Medical Assistant College
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate 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 addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phoenix Arizona.