How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Sun City Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sun City AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Sun City AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential 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 specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Sun City 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 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Sun City AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded 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 have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Sun City 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 right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Sun City AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. First, 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Sun City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
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 exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Sun City AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Sun City healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Sun City 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 healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might 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 likely 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 see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sun City AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Sun City AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges 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, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Sun City AZ.