How to Pick the Best CMA Course near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Prescott Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Prescott Valley AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Prescott Valley AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Prescott Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at 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, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Prescott Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs 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 enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out 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 college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may 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 too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.