How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Prescott Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Prescott AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Prescott AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Prescott AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Prescott AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, 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 process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prescott AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. First, 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Prescott AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Prescott AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Prescott health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Prescott AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention 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 possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Prescott AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch 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 information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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, don't forget 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 start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott AZ.