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How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona medical assistant carrying patient filesNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential 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 critical issues as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important 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 colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Gilbert Arizona medical assistant holding door for patient on crutches

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Gilbert AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative 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 working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Courses

Gilbert Arizona CMA working with senior patient in nursing homeIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Gilbert AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical 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 practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Gilbert AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Gilbert Arizona young woman attending online medical assistant trainingThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Gilbert AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want 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 procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Gilbert AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Gilbert AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose 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 closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Gilbert AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Gilbert health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Gilbert AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will 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 emergencies.

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Gilbert

Enroll in the Right Gilbert Medical Assistant Course

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college 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 practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Gilbert Arizona.




 

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