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Become a Medical Assistant Tempe AZ 85008

How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School near Tempe Arizona

Tempe AZ medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tempe AZ, it's time to select a school 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? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Train to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Tempe AZ, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must organize some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Tempe AZ medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Tempe AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing 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 many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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

Tempe AZ CMA welcoming patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Tempe AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Tempe AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably 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, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Tempe Arizona woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Tempe AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Tempe AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Tempe AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Tempe AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Tempe medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Tempe AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school 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 wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Tempe AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Tempe AZ.