How to Pick the Right CMA Training Program near El Mirage Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession 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 undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the El Mirage AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions 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 fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many El Mirage AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended 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, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in El Mirage AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible El Mirage 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 perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to El Mirage AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective El Mirage AZ employers will not employ 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 create their programs to ready 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 for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with El Mirage AZ area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the El Mirage health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the El Mirage AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right El Mirage AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is 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 obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in El Mirage AZ.