How to Pick the Best CMA Course near Tempe Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tempe AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Tempe AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available 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 Courses
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Tempe AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Tempe AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Tempe AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Tempe AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Tempe AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods 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 Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma 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 decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Tempe AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Tempe healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Tempe AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that fit 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 might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Tempe AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Tempe AZ.