How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 available.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Prescott Valley AZ, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must organize a number of strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Prescott Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support 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 duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Programs
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Prescott Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally 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 prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided 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 might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Prescott Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Prescott Valley medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have 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 suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator 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 provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier 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 policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Prescott Valley AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley AZ.