How to Choose an Accredited CMA School Program near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Catalina Foothills AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Catalina Foothills AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. 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 providing direct support to the physicians, nurses 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 submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many 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 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Catalina Foothills AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Catalina Foothills AZ area health care 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 may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Catalina Foothills 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 need to explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Catalina Foothills AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program'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 college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Catalina Foothills AZ area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Catalina Foothills medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Catalina Foothills AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch 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 info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Catalina Foothills AZ.