How to Choose the Best CMA Degree Program near Mesa Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mesa AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Mesa AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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 Programs
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Mesa AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational 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 usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Mesa AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential 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 arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Mesa AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Mesa AZ employers will not employ 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 schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program'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 college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest 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 about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Mesa AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Mesa health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Mesa AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Mesa AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Mesa AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Mesa AZ.