How to Select the Best CMA Training School near Tempe Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tempe AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Tempe AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Tempe AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component 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.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Tempe AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Tempe AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Tempe AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered 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 school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting 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 means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Tempe AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Tempe medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Tempe AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tempe AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Tempe AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on 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 online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Tempe AZ.