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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Florence Arizona

Florence Arizona CMA carrying patient recordsNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students start 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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 offered.

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The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Florence Arizona CMA holding door for man using crutches

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Florence AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions 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 practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Programs

Florence Arizona CMA reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityUnlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Florence 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 essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Florence AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Florence Arizona young female attending online medical assistant classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for students 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 alternative for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Florence AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Florence AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Florence AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools 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 colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Florence AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Florence health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Florence AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Become a CMA in Florence

Enroll in the Right Florence Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon 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 organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Florence Arizona.




 

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