How to Choose an Accredited CMA Program near San Tan Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting 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 Study to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near San Tan Valley AZ, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to pick health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready a number of strategies about how you would like to address them. Because there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the San Tan Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many San Tan Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges together with trade 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 training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential San Tan Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to San Tan Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective San Tan Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the San Tan Valley healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley 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 have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.