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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to choose 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 best one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Function of Medical Assistants

Gilbert Arizona CMA holding door for patient on crutches

So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Gilbert AZ physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.

Medical Assistant Programs

Gilbert Arizona medical assistant working with senior patient in skilled nursing facilityUnlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have 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 generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational 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 frequently 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Gilbert AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered 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. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Gilbert Arizona young woman attending online medical assistant coursesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit 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 added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Gilbert AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

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 choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Gilbert AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of 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? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Gilbert AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Gilbert medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching 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 an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to 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 more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

How to Be a Medical Assistant in Gilbert

Enroll in the Right Gilbert Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan 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, make 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 ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Gilbert Arizona.




 

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