How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School near Phoenix Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by researching 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
Why Study to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Phoenix AZ, it's important to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize a number of ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down some concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Phoenix AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular 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 Education
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Phoenix AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four 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 requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Phoenix AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Phoenix AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education 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 furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Phoenix AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Phoenix AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get 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 receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Phoenix AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Phoenix healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might 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 offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Phoenix AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Phoenix AZ.