How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Course near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Prescott Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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 Education
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Prescott Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 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 two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible 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 additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Prescott Valley AZ area medical 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 education might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Prescott 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 exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Prescott Valley health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might 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.
Choose the Right Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision 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 picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.