How to Pick the Right CMA Degree Program near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying 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 colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Gilbert AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, 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 have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with 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 requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Gilbert AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Gilbert AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Gilbert AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To start with, 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Gilbert AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer 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 health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Gilbert medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer 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 affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may 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 offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings 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 still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out 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 Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish 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 life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Gilbert AZ.