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Become a Medical Assistant Oro Valley AZ 85704

How to Pick the Right CMA Degree Program near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley AZ CMA holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding 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 proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

Why Study to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Oro Valley AZ, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must prepare several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Oro Valley AZ CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Oro Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few 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 fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer 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 Courses

Oro Valley AZ CMA greeting patientIn contrast to most other medical professionals, 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 would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as trade 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 classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Oro Valley AZ medical employers simply 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Oro Valley Arizona student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Oro Valley AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Oro Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when researching schools. To help 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 final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm 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 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. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Oro Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Oro Valley health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might 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.

Choose the Right Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must 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 selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley AZ.