How to Select an Accredited CMA Training Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Scottsdale AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the Scottsdale AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. 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
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Courses
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Scottsdale AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed 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 usually two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring 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.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Scottsdale AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Scottsdale AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Scottsdale AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must examine when assessing schools. To assist 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 final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Scottsdale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Scottsdale AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Scottsdale medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Scottsdale AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Scottsdale AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right 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 lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges 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 certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Scottsdale AZ.