How to Find the Best CMA School near Oro Valley Arizona
Once you have made a decision 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 furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out 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
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may 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 options 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 Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Oro Valley AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options available 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 a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Oro Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Oro Valley AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Oro Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Oro Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Oro Valley medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley AZ.