How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Training School near Sierra Vista Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of 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 furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest 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 take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Sierra Vista AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Sierra Vista AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Sierra Vista AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Sierra Vista AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Sierra Vista AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Sierra Vista AZ employers will not hire 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 colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine 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 naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Sierra Vista AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Sierra Vista health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Sierra Vista AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sierra Vista AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Sierra Vista AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Sierra Vista AZ.