How to Select an Accredited CMA School Program near Phoenix Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Phoenix AZ, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should prepare a number of ideas about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Phoenix AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare 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 practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Programs
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Phoenix AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Phoenix AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Phoenix AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Phoenix AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Phoenix AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Phoenix AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Phoenix health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Phoenix AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phoenix AZ.