How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Program near Mesa Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mesa AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Mesa AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices available 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 Training Programs
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, 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 essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Mesa AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Mesa AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Mesa AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the college you select 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 intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Mesa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out 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 college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get 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 decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Mesa AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Mesa medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm 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 medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? 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 prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to observe 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 school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate 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 may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will 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 issues.
Choose the Best Mesa AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can 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 Mesa AZ.