How to Find the Best Medical Assistant School near Mesa Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mesa AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to look into a few 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 complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Mesa AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Mesa AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Mesa AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to 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 attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Mesa AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Mesa AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Mesa AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Mesa AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Mesa health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that initial job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Mesa AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention 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 instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mesa AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Mesa AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on 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 online or on-campus 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 ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Mesa AZ.