How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Prescott Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated 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 (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Prescott Valley AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps 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, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional 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 too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Prescott Valley AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Prescott Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Prescott Valley health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.