How to Select the Right CMA Program near Flagstaff Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Flagstaff AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals 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:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of 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 offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Flagstaff AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Flagstaff AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Flagstaff AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Flagstaff AZ employers will not employ 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 schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Flagstaff AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Flagstaff healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Flagstaff AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Flagstaff AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Flagstaff AZ.