How to Choose an Accredited CMA Program near Chandler Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chandler AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Chandler AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams 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 earn certification. Two of the choices available 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 Courses
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Chandler AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving 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 similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Chandler AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Chandler AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Chandler AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Chandler AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally 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 about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Chandler AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Chandler health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Chandler AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Chandler AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Chandler AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chandler AZ.