How to Select the Best CMA Program near Sierra Vista Arizona
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sierra Vista AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Sierra Vista AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Sierra Vista AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Sierra Vista AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Sierra Vista AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Sierra Vista AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Sierra Vista AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Sierra Vista AZ area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Sierra Vista medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Sierra Vista AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sierra Vista AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Sierra Vista AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially 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 online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Sierra Vista AZ.