How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Gilbert Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Gilbert AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Gilbert AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Gilbert AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Gilbert AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Gilbert AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Gilbert AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose 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. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one 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 vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Gilbert AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Gilbert healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Gilbert AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small 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 possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Gilbert Medical Assistant School
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Gilbert Arizona.