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Become a Medical Assistant Prescott AZ 86301

How to Pick the Right CMA School Program near Prescott Arizona

Prescott AZ CMA with medical chartNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges 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 training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Prescott AZ, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. Among the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to pick health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare several approaches about how you would like to address them. Considering there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the strengths you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Prescott AZ CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Prescott AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs

Prescott AZ CMA opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Prescott AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some 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 option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community 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 courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Prescott AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Prescott Arizona student attending medical assistant school onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for individuals 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 solution 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 alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Prescott AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prescott AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Prescott AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Prescott AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Prescott medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Prescott AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Prescott AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott AZ.