How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Course near Yuma Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Yuma AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each 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 type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Yuma AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular 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 Training Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required 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 (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate 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 healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Yuma AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Yuma AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools 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 a number of additional issues that you must explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Yuma AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create 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 to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, 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 means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain 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 opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Yuma AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Yuma health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Yuma AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Yuma AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Yuma AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Yuma AZ.