How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Sahuarita Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sahuarita AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Duties of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Sahuarita AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn 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
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Sahuarita AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 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 usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element requiring 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Sahuarita AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Sahuarita AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Sahuarita 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 should examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin 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 approved 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Sahuarita AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Sahuarita AZ area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Sahuarita medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Sahuarita AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sahuarita AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training 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 emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Sahuarita Medical Assistant College
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin 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 prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Sahuarita Arizona.