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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near El Mirage Arizona

El Mirage Arizona CMA holding patient filesNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Job of Medical Assistants

El Mirage Arizona medical assistant greeting patient using crutches

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the El Mirage AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

El Mirage Arizona CMA working with senior man in skilled nursing facilityUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have 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 are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible El Mirage AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly 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, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

El Mirage Arizona young female taking online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in El Mirage AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to El Mirage AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must 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 ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in 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 accepted organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective El Mirage AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program'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 school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with El Mirage AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the El Mirage medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify 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 students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere 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 full time, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Become a CMA in El Mirage

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 furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if 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 must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided 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 selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in El Mirage Arizona.




 

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