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Become a Medical Assistant Gilbert AZ 85142

How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert AZ CMA with patient chartNow that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean 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 critical factors also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

Why Train to Be a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Gilbert AZ, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare several strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Gilbert AZ medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Gilbert AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training

Gilbert AZ CMA welcoming patientUnlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Gilbert 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 two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Gilbert AZ medical employers simply will not hire 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) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Gilbert AZ woman attending medical assistant program onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative 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 a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Gilbert AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Gilbert AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Gilbert AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask 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 programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Gilbert AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Gilbert healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Gilbert AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small 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 practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right Gilbert AZ Medical Assistant Program

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Gilbert AZ.