How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Flagstaff Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Flagstaff AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based 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 responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties 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 physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Flagstaff AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges together with trade 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 practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Flagstaff AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing 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 commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Flagstaff AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Flagstaff AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure 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 intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Flagstaff AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? 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 reviewing 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 targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Flagstaff AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Flagstaff healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Flagstaff AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout 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 enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Flagstaff AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Flagstaff AZ.