How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Glendale AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Glendale AZ, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to ready several ideas about how you want to answer them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Glendale AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Training Courses
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Glendale AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Glendale AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Glendale AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, 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 procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Glendale AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Glendale AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Glendale AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Glendale health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Glendale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Glendale AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Glendale AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is 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 obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on 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 organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Glendale AZ.