How to Choose the Best CMA School Program near Tempe Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tempe AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential 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 important issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Tempe AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may 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 health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Tempe 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 basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Tempe AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Tempe AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process 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 Tempe AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Tempe AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start 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 instance, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Tempe AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Tempe medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Tempe AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Tempe AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision 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 agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Tempe AZ.