How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training Near San Tan Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Duties of Medical Assistants
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in San Tan Valley AZ physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many San Tan Valley AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred 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 mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible San Tan Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in San Tan Valley AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to San Tan Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential San Tan Valley 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 create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the San Tan Valley medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right San Tan Valley Medical Assistant Classes
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your selection. 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, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical 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 made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus 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 subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley Arizona.