How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Course near El Mirage Arizona
Now that you have decided to join 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 furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the El Mirage AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Training
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of El Mirage AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible El Mirage AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have 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 to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in El Mirage AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing 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 significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective El Mirage AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with El Mirage AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the El Mirage healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
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 likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right El Mirage AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided 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 best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in El Mirage AZ.