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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Course Near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona medical assistant carrying patient chartNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Duties of Medical Assistants

Gilbert Arizona medical assistant greeting man using crutches

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Gilbert AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

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

While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Gilbert Arizona medical assistant reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Gilbert AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Gilbert AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Gilbert Arizona young female attending online medical assistant coursesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs 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 satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Gilbert AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Gilbert AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Gilbert 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 colleges design their programs to ready 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 interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess 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 covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Gilbert AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Gilbert health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in 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 offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Train to Be a CMA in Gilbert

Enroll in the Right Gilbert Medical Assistant College

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Gilbert Arizona.




 

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