How to Choose the Best CMA Training School near San Tan Valley Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all 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 training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the San Tan Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of San Tan Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible San Tan Valley AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to San Tan Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one 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 available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential San Tan Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school'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. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build 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 Support Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to 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 easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.