How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School near Pima Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Pima AZ, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included some 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Pima AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based 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 support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Pima AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts 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 commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option for students who might not have 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 attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Pima AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Pima AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Pima AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Pima AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get 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 elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Pima AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Pima health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Getting that initial job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Pima AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pima AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Pima Arizona?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Pima AZ area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Pima County, Arizona
Pima County /ˈpiːmə/ is a county in the south central region of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, the population was 980,263, making it Arizona's second-most populous county. The county seat is Tucson, where nearly all of the population is centered. The county is named after the Pima Native Americans who are indigenous to this area.
Pima County contains parts of the Tohono O'odham Nation, as well as all of the San Xavier Indian Reservation, the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Ironwood Forest National Monument and Saguaro National Park.
The vast majority of the county population lies in and around the city of Tucson (2011 city population: 525,796), filling much of the eastern part of the county with urban development. Tucson, Arizona's second largest city, is a major commercial and academic center. Other urban areas include the Tucson suburbs of Oro Valley (population 41,335), Marana (population 35,232), Sahuarita (population 25,458), and South Tucson (population 5,695), a large ring of unincorporated urban development, and the growing satellite town Green Valley. The rest of the county is sparsely populated; the largest towns are Sells, the capital of the Tohono O'odham Nation, and Ajo in the county's far western region.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant Program Pima AZ
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Accredited Medical Assistant Programs Online. 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Pima AZ.
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