How to Select the Best CMA Training Program near Surprise Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Surprise AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
Why Study to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Surprise AZ, it's important to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and talents you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to organize some strategies about how you want to address them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Surprise AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular 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 Training Programs
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Surprise AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain 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 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 typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to technical 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 classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Surprise AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Surprise AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Surprise AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Surprise 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 schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Surprise AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Surprise medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Surprise 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication 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 one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Surprise AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Surprise AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Surprise AZ.