How to Select the Best CMA Degree Program near Gilbert Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gilbert AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each 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 type of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Gilbert AZ, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What compelled you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you want to address them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Gilbert AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Gilbert AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Gilbert AZ medical employers just will not employ 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice 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 pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Gilbert AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Gilbert AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Gilbert AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Gilbert AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish 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 Assistance Offered? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Gilbert AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can 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 prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gilbert AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Gilbert AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Gilbert AZ.