Home >> Arizona >> Gilbert >> Medical Assistant Programs


Become a Medical Assistant Gilbert AZ 85142

How to Select the Right CMA School Program near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert AZ CMA holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 available.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Gilbert AZ, it's helpful to review questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What compelled you to pick health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should organize several approaches about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Gilbert AZ CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Gilbert AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities 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 facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some 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
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Education

Gilbert AZ medical assistant welcoming patientCompared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Gilbert AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Gilbert AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Gilbert Arizona student attending medical assistant online programThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed 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 method of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Gilbert AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Gilbert AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.

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

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that very first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Gilbert AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate 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 might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Gilbert AZ Medical Assistant Training

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure 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 ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Gilbert AZ.