How to Choose the Right CMA School near Yuma Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care 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 go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 factors also. You may decide to take a look at some 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 relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" 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 Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Yuma AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. 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 nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Yuma AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few 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 normally two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges together with trade 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 courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Yuma AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good 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 an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Yuma AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Yuma AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Yuma AZ employers will not employ 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 prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school'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. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Yuma AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Yuma healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Yuma AZ, make sure 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 will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Yuma AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can 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.