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Become a Medical Assistant Mesa AZ 85142

How to Select the Right CMA Program near Mesa Arizona

Mesa AZ medical assistant with medical chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mesa AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

Why Train to Be a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Mesa AZ, it's advantageous to consider questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare several approaches about how you want to address them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Mesa AZ CMA taking vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Mesa AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based 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 providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular 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 Training Programs

Mesa AZ medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Mesa AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed 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 provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving 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.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Mesa AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Mesa Arizona woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Mesa AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Mesa 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 look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Mesa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Arizona schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.

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

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Mesa AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small 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 attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mesa AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Mesa AZ Medical Assistant Program

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on 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 on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Mesa AZ.