How to Choose the Right CMA Training Program near Bullhead City Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bullhead City AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Bullhead City AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Bullhead City AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine 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 usually two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate 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 routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Bullhead City AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who may 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 attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Bullhead City AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bullhead City AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Bullhead City AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program'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 school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Bullhead City AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Bullhead City medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Bullhead City AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bullhead City AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might 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 may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Bullhead City AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish 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 life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bullhead City AZ.