How to Find the Best CMA Program near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short 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 Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Prescott Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Prescott Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, 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 alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Prescott Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prescott Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Prescott Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally 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 ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate 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 opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Prescott Valley healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.