How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Gilbert AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can 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 medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect 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 Courses
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many 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 basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Gilbert AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There 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 accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Gilbert AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Gilbert AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Gilbert AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest 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 receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Gilbert AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Gilbert health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Gilbert AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Gilbert AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative 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 objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Gilbert AZ.