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

El Mirage Arizona medical assistant carrying patient recordsOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Job of a Medical Assistant

El Mirage Arizona medical assistant holding door for man on crutches

Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, El Mirage AZ medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.

Medical Assistant Training Courses

El Mirage Arizona medical assistant working with senior patient in skilled nursing facilityUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of El Mirage AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible El Mirage AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

El Mirage Arizona young female attending online medical assistant coursesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for individuals who might not have the time to attend 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in El Mirage AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to El Mirage AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, 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? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with El Mirage AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the El Mirage health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that initial job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the El Mirage AZ area and find out 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 healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

How to Become a CMA in El Mirage

Enroll in the Right El Mirage Medical Assistant School

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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.




 

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