How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Gilbert Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Gilbert 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 an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Gilbert AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Gilbert AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job 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 attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, 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 CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Gilbert AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Gilbert AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Gilbert AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Gilbert health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Gilbert AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Gilbert AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Gilbert AZ.