How to Find an Accredited CMA Training Program near Tucson Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tucson AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Tucson AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. 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 tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific 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 Courses
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Tucson AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically 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 junior and community colleges as well as trade 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 component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Tucson AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Tucson 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 best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Tucson AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Tucson AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask 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 evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Tucson AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Tucson healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Tucson AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tucson AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Tucson AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. 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, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be 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 gratifying career as a medical assistant in Tucson AZ.