How to Pick an Accredited CMA School Program near Peoria Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Peoria AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Peoria AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Peoria 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 essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Peoria AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Peoria AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps 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 be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Peoria AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To start 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 approved 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 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 assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Peoria AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Peoria AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Peoria medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Peoria AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high 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 large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Peoria AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Peoria AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many 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, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Peoria AZ.