How to Choose a Medical Assistant Training in Maricopa Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Maricopa AZ, it’s time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences 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 critical issues also. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all 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 training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Maricopa AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While Maricopa AZ medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular 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 Courses and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Maricopa AZ employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Maricopa AZ employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in area Arizona healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Maricopa AZ is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Maricopa AZ or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when assessing Arizona schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Maricopa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Maricopa AZ area medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Maricopa AZ area colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous Arizona medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with regional medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Maricopa AZ health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers in the Maricopa AZ area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school in the Maricopa AZ area to observe what the teaching environment 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 imperative that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Maricopa AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in Maricopa AZ
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of 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, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. 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, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can 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 Maricopa AZ.
Why Did You Want to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask candidates is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should prepare some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Some Cities in Arizona That May Be Of Interest