How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may want to research 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 important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Prescott Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Prescott Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on 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 attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design 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 healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for those 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, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Prescott Valley AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest 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 factors that you should explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Prescott Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design 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 to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials 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 get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Prescott Valley healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.