How to Pick an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Once you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Catalina Foothills AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all 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 Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Catalina Foothills AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Programs
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Catalina Foothills AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Catalina Foothills AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Catalina Foothills AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Catalina Foothills AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Catalina Foothills AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get 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 earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Catalina Foothills AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Catalina Foothills healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that very first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
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 prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also 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 because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Catalina Foothills AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether 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 acquire 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 decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Catalina Foothills AZ.