How to Pick a Medical Assistant Program in Arizona City Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Arizona City AZ, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might want to look into 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 carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Arizona City AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While Arizona City AZ medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Arizona City AZ employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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.
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Arizona City AZ employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in area Arizona medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Arizona City AZ is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Arizona City AZ or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when researching Arizona programs. 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 ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Arizona City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Arizona City AZ area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona City AZ area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Arizona medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Arizona City AZ healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in the Arizona City AZ area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Arizona City AZ area to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Arizona City AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant College in Arizona City AZ
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 planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Arizona City AZ.
Why Did You Want to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask candidates is "What made you pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you want to respond to them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Some Cities in Arizona That May Be Of Interest