How to Choose the Right CMA School near Glendale Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Glendale AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to research 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 important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Glendale AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. 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 tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Glendale AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Glendale AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to go to 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 attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Glendale AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Glendale AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Glendale AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on 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 assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose 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 one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Glendale AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Glendale medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Glendale AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Glendale AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Glendale AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Glendale AZ.