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Become a Medical Assistant San Tan Valley AZ 85128

How to Find an Accredited CMA Training School near San Tan Valley Arizona

San Tan Valley AZ CMA with patient chartOnce you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished 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 role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Study to Become a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near San Tan Valley AZ, it's important to consider questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to pick health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare a number of strategies about how you want to respond to them. Since there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.

The Role of Medical Assistants

San Tan Valley AZ medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the San Tan Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Education

San Tan Valley AZ CMA greeting patient on crutchesUnlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many San Tan Valley AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible San Tan Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

San Tan Valley Arizona woman attending medical assistant school onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in San Tan Valley AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to San Tan Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed 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 finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective San Tan Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the San Tan Valley healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good 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 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 furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Right San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right 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 must get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges 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 decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.