How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School near El Mirage Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near El Mirage AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes 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 factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask each 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the El Mirage AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available 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 Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, 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 essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible El Mirage AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in El Mirage AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to El Mirage AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering 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. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential El Mirage AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with El Mirage AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the El Mirage healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating 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 graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller 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 possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to experience 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 school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near El Mirage AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best El Mirage AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info 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 discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided 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 choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in El Mirage AZ.