Home >> Arizona >> Sun City >> Medical Assistant Schools


Become a Medical Assistant Sun City AZ 85345

How to Choose an Accredited CMA School Program near Sun City Arizona

Sun City AZ CMA with patient chartOnce you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sun City AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start 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 Duties of Medical Assistants

Sun City AZ CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Sun City AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities 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 doctors
  • Providing general support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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

Sun City AZ CMA greeting patient on crutchesUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Sun City AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Sun City AZ student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible 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, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Sun City AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Sun City AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably 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 exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want 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 begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Sun City AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). 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 applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective 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? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose 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 ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Sun City AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Sun City medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Sun City AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sun City AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Sun City AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing 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, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Sun City AZ.