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Become a Medical Assistant Casa Grande AZ 85121

How to Select the Best CMA Training Program near Casa Grande Arizona

Casa Grande AZ CMA holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Casa Grande AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges 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 type of training and credentials that are available.

The Job of Medical Assistants

Casa Grande AZ CMA taking vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Casa Grande AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. 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 assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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

Casa Grande AZ CMA welcoming patient on crutchesUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Casa Grande AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route 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 six to nine months. They are designed 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 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Casa Grande AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Casa Grande AZ student attending medical assistant online programThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Casa Grande AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Casa Grande AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Casa Grande AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Casa Grande AZ area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Casa Grande medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Casa Grande 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 suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Casa Grande AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Casa Grande AZ.