How to Select the Best CMA School near Maricopa Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Maricopa AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future 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 location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Maricopa AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Maricopa 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 two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Maricopa AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for 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 as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Maricopa AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Maricopa AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Maricopa 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 develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, 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 shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Maricopa AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Maricopa medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Maricopa AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual 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 one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Maricopa AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Maricopa AZ.