How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Prescott Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Prescott AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn 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
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Prescott 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 provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Prescott AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Prescott AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prescott AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Prescott AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in 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. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prescott AZ area medical providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Prescott healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Prescott AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Prescott AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering 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, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott AZ.