How to Pick the Right CMA School near Oro Valley Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers 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 tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Oro Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical 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.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Oro Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Oro Valley AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Oro Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently 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 college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Oro Valley healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information 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 covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley AZ.