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Become a Medical Assistant San Tan Valley AZ 85128

How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School near San Tan Valley Arizona

San Tan Valley AZ medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to 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 type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near San Tan Valley AZ, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the things that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must prepare a number of approaches about how you want to answer them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

San Tan Valley AZ medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the San Tan Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance 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 duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Courses

San Tan Valley AZ CMA opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many San Tan Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible San Tan Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate 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 offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

San Tan Valley AZ student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to San Tan Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below 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 choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective San Tan Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

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

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.