How to Find the Best Medical Assistant School Program Near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
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, Gilbert 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
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Gilbert AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. 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 four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Gilbert AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Gilbert 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 right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Gilbert AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. 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 potential Gilbert AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Gilbert AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Gilbert healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Gilbert AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication 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 convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Gilbert Medical Assistant School
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right information 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 decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Gilbert Arizona.