How to Choose an Accredited CMA Training School near Yuma Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Yuma AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Yuma AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out 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 general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Yuma AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals 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 provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Yuma AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for those who might not have 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 to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Yuma AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Yuma AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great 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 extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Yuma AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering 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 compare it to the national average. This is just 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 avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Yuma AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Yuma healthcare 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 very first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Yuma AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Yuma AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Yuma AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example 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 online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Yuma AZ.