How to Choose the Right CMA Degree Program near Mesa Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mesa AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Mesa AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific 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 most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Mesa AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready 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 together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Mesa AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Mesa AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict 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 a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Mesa AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Mesa AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish 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 Service Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Mesa AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mesa AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Mesa AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Mesa AZ.