How to Choose the Best CMA School near Tempe Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of 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 right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Tempe AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Tempe AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available 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 courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Tempe AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental 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 met, but they can usually be completed in Tempe AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Tempe AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Tempe AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program'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. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes 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, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Tempe AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Tempe medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Tempe AZ area and find out 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 medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tempe AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Tempe AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire 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 decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Tempe AZ.