Home >> Arizona >> Flagstaff >> Medical Assistant Degrees


Become a Medical Assistant Flagstaff AZ 86001

How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff AZ medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Flagstaff AZ medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Flagstaff AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Training

Flagstaff AZ medical assistant opening door for patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Flagstaff AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Flagstaff AZ woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Flagstaff AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Flagstaff AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Flagstaff AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 acknowledged 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Flagstaff AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Flagstaff AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Flagstaff medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Flagstaff AZ area and find out 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you choose provides 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 program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Flagstaff AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare 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 selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Flagstaff AZ.