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Become a Medical Assistant Oro Valley AZ 85704

How to Find the Best CMA School near Oro Valley Arizona

Oro Valley AZ CMA holding medical chartNow that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Oro Valley AZ CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size 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 in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Oro Valley AZ CMA greeting patientIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Oro Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine 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 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 diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Oro Valley Arizona student attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to attend 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 earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Oro Valley AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Oro Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching 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 nearest to Oro Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Oro Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes 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, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Oro Valley medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller 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 attend a few classes before choosing a program to experience 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 to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley AZ.