How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Near El Mirage Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few 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 function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the El Mirage AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical 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 possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many El Mirage AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible 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 possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those 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 alternative for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in El Mirage AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to El Mirage AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally 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 Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must 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 naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with El Mirage AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the El Mirage medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the El Mirage AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent 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 Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college 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, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right El Mirage Medical Assistant Course
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied 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.