How to Choose an Accredited CMA Program near El Mirage Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest 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, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should 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 credentials and training that are available.
Why Train to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near El Mirage AZ, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you want to answer them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the El Mirage AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Education
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many El Mirage AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 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 mandate, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible El Mirage 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 arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in El Mirage AZ area healthcare 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 best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to El Mirage AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential El Mirage AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in 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 methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with El Mirage AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the El Mirage healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the El Mirage AZ area and find out 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 suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right El Mirage AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in El Mirage AZ.