How to Find the Right CMA Program near Queen Creek Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Queen Creek AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Queen Creek AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers 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 responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose 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 Education
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Queen Creek AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade 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 practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Queen Creek AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Queen Creek 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 possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Queen Creek AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Queen Creek AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get 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 get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Queen Creek AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Queen Creek health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Queen Creek AZ area and ask 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 health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Queen Creek AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Queen Creek AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is 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 acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Queen Creek AZ.