How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Near Phoenix Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have 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 have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Phoenix AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Phoenix AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Phoenix AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in 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 must 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective 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 prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, 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 assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Phoenix AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Phoenix healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just 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 imperative that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy 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 Course
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phoenix Arizona.