How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Yuma Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Yuma AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Yuma AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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 Courses
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Yuma AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Yuma AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Yuma AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Yuma AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Yuma AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Yuma AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Yuma medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Yuma AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can 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 furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Yuma AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Yuma AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Yuma AZ.