How to Select the Best CMA School Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Scottsdale AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may want to look into several 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 pertinent aspects of the schools 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 prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Scottsdale AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. 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 assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Scottsdale AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good 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 option for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Scottsdale AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Scottsdale AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Scottsdale AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Scottsdale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Scottsdale AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Scottsdale healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Scottsdale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching environment 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 imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Scottsdale AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Scottsdale AZ.