How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program 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 select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might want to research 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 finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges 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 type of training and credentials that are available.
Why Train to Become a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Prescott AZ, it's advantageous to consider questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should ready a number of strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Prescott AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn 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
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Prescott AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (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 obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four 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 mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Prescott AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for students who might not have the time to attend 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 certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Prescott AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prescott AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Prescott AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to 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 naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school'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. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining 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 closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Prescott AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help 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 Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prescott AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Prescott AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prescott AZ.