How to Select the Best CMA Course near Flagstaff Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent 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 before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Flagstaff AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size 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 potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Flagstaff 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 basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Flagstaff AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Flagstaff AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Flagstaff AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin 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 complete 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 anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Flagstaff AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop 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 looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on 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 compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Flagstaff AZ area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Flagstaff medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Flagstaff AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator 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 furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Flagstaff 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 still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Flagstaff AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Flagstaff AZ.