How to Choose the Best CMA Program near El Mirage Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the El Mirage AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn 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
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many El Mirage 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 essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically 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 prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as 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 training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential El Mirage AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in El Mirage AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine 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 researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to El Mirage AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 approved organizations 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective El Mirage AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with El Mirage AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the El Mirage health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the El Mirage 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 a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need 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 issues.
Enroll in the Best El Mirage AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in El Mirage AZ.