How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Casa Grande Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Casa Grande AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of future students begin by researching 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Casa Grande AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Programs
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Casa Grande AZ health care employers would rather 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 fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to attend 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 degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Casa Grande AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Casa Grande AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Casa Grande AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Casa Grande AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs 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 targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Casa Grande AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Finding that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Casa Grande AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, make sure 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 all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Casa Grande AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program 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 obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Casa Grande AZ.