How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Near Mesa Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mesa AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Mesa AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Training
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Mesa AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Mesa AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Mesa AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Mesa AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Mesa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Mesa AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Mesa health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Mesa AZ area and ask 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 health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mesa AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Mesa Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right 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 lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Mesa Arizona.