Home >> Arizona >> Oro Valley >> How To Become A Medical Assistant


Become a Medical Assistant Oro Valley AZ 85704

How to Pick an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley AZ medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Train to Be a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Oro Valley AZ, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to organize several ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.

The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Oro Valley AZ medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is ensure that the Oro Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain 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

Oro Valley AZ medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Oro Valley 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 shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available 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 training. They frequently have a practical element requiring 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Oro Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Oro Valley AZ student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Oro Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Oro Valley 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 need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Oro Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, 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 lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Oro Valley medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might 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 responsibilities.

Choose the Right Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure 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 examination. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley AZ.