How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Program near Yuma Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Yuma AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type 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. Basically their job is ensure that the Yuma AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Yuma AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges together with 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 practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Yuma AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected 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 be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional 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 reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Yuma AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Yuma AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college you select 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 intend to become certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Yuma AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically 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, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Yuma AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Yuma medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Yuma AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to 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 college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Yuma AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if 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 must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Yuma AZ.