How to Choose an Accredited CMA Training Program near San Tan Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the San Tan Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available 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
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain 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 basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible San Tan Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded 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 graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in San Tan Valley AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to San Tan Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective San Tan Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the San Tan Valley healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will 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 Right San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges 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 pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.