How to Pick an Accredited CMA School Program near Avondale Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Avondale AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Avondale AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training Programs
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Avondale AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature 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 facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Avondale AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Avondale AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Avondale AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you choose 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. 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 mentioned previously, a number of potential Avondale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out 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 assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select 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 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Avondale AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Avondale health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Avondale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Avondale AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Avondale AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Avondale AZ.