How to Find the Right CMA School near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field 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 approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Prescott Valley AZ, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you would like to answer them. Because there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the Prescott Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few 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
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered 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
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, 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 (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, 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 alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for those 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 to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Prescott Valley AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Prescott Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Prescott Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining 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 about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Prescott Valley medical 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 difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere 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 on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to 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, verify that the program you select 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 decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure 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 start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.