How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Course Near San Tan Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
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The Duties of Medical Assistants
Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Arizona healthcare settings, concentrated in San Tan Valley outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.
Medical Assistant Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many San Tan Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential San Tan Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in San Tan Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to 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 procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to San Tan Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on 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 potential San Tan Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep 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 to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the San Tan Valley medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout 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 possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right San Tan Valley Medical Assistant School
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. 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 addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley Arizona.