How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Flagstaff Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Flagstaff AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type 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 nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Flagstaff AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Flagstaff AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Flagstaff AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Flagstaff AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Flagstaff AZ employers will not employ 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 prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Flagstaff AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Flagstaff medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Flagstaff AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical 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 can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may 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.
Enroll in the Right Flagstaff AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Flagstaff AZ.