How to Find the Best CMA Training Program near San Tan Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 factors as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges 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 type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the San Tan Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based 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 tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of San Tan Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education 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 often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential San Tan Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in San Tan Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to San Tan Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when assessing programs. To help 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 Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential San Tan Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the San Tan Valley medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to see 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 working full-time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind 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 choosing the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.