How to Choose an Accredited CMA Course near Casa Grande Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Casa Grande AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Casa Grande AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. 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 nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Casa Grande 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 essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate 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 medical practice. 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.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended 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, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Casa Grande AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Casa Grande AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Casa Grande AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
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 instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Casa Grande AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Casa Grande AZ area medical care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Casa Grande health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Casa Grande AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might 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.
Enroll in the Best Casa Grande AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure 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 examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Casa Grande AZ.