Home >> Arizona >> Mesa >> Medical Assistant Programs


Become a Medical Assistant Mesa AZ 85142

How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program near Mesa Arizona

Mesa AZ CMA with medical chartNow that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mesa AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Mesa AZ, it's helpful to review questions you could be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare some strategies about how you want to answer them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Mesa AZ CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Mesa AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training

Mesa AZ CMA greeting patientCompared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Mesa AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Mesa AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Mesa Arizona woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have 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 added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Mesa AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Mesa AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Mesa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Mesa AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Mesa medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Mesa 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 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 might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching environment 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 working full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mesa AZ, confirm 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 may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Mesa AZ Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Mesa AZ.