How to Find the Right CMA Training Program near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once 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 select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students start by researching 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, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Prescott Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Programs
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, 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 are certified. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 typically 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Prescott Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Prescott Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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). 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. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally 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 college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask 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 programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Prescott Valley healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some 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 college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.