How to Find the Right CMA Training Program near Casa Grande Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Casa Grande AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Casa Grande AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities 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 providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Casa Grande AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Casa Grande AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered 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 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Casa Grande AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Casa Grande AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Casa Grande AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Casa Grande AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Casa Grande medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive 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 program 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 employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to see 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 full time, it's essential that the school you choose 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 available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Casa Grande AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Casa Grande AZ.