How to Enroll In the Right CMA Course near Mesa Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mesa AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Mesa AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose 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 medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Mesa 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 generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Mesa AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Mesa AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Mesa AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Mesa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Mesa AZ area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Mesa healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Mesa 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mesa AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Mesa AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Mesa AZ.