How to Pick the Right CMA Program near Yuma Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying 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 undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many 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 cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Yuma AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Yuma AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for students who may not have 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 to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Yuma AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Yuma AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Yuma AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Yuma AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Yuma AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Yuma healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that very first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Yuma AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to witness 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 full-time, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Yuma AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Yuma AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Yuma AZ.