How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Near El Mirage Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Duties of a Medical Assistant
If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in El Mirage AZ clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.
Medical Assistant Training
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of El Mirage AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential El Mirage AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in El Mirage AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to El Mirage AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 approved 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential El Mirage AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with El Mirage AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the El Mirage health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the El Mirage AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school 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 school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right El Mirage Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in El Mirage Arizona.