How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Glendale AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
Why Train to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Glendale AZ, it's important to review questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and talents you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Glendale AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential 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 instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific 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
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Glendale AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Glendale AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Glendale AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Glendale AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Glendale AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially 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, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Glendale AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Glendale medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Glendale AZ area and ask 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 health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative 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 Glendale AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Glendale AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Glendale AZ.