How to Pick an Accredited CMA School near Bullhead City Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bullhead City AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Bullhead City AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Bullhead City AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Bullhead City AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Bullhead City AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bullhead City AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Bullhead City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Bullhead City AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Bullhead City healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Bullhead City AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bullhead City AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Bullhead City AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bullhead City AZ.