How to Select the Best Medical Assistant School Program Near El Mirage Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing 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 gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (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 process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The most versatile health professional in any Arizona healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other El Mirage medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many El Mirage AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible El Mirage AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might 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 students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in El Mirage AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to El Mirage AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To start 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 must 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential El Mirage AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones 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 enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with El Mirage AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the El Mirage health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the El Mirage AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right El Mirage Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in El Mirage Arizona.