How to Choose an Accredited CMA Program near Sierra Vista Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sierra Vista AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Sierra Vista AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Training Programs
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Sierra Vista AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Sierra Vista AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for the CMA exam, 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 discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the 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 earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Sierra Vista AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Sierra Vista AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently 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? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Sierra Vista AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist 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 Support Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Sierra Vista AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Sierra Vista AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Sierra Vista AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin 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 healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Sierra Vista AZ.