How to Select an Accredited CMA Training Program near Gilbert Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Gilbert AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based 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 tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Gilbert AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain 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 comprehensive 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 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Gilbert AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent option for students who might not have 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 to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Gilbert AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Gilbert AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Gilbert AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design 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 schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting 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 ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring 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, 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 approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Gilbert AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Gilbert healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer 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 medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Gilbert AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Gilbert AZ.