How to Choose the Right CMA School near Sierra Vista Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sierra Vista AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate 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 factors also. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Sierra Vista AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Education
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Sierra Vista AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Sierra Vista AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received 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). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Sierra Vista AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. With 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 Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Sierra Vista 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 factors that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming 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 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 assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Sierra Vista AZ employers will not employ 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 schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Sierra Vista AZ area medical providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Sierra Vista healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Sierra Vista AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Sierra Vista AZ, make certain 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 clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out 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 Sierra Vista AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan 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 choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Sierra Vista AZ.