How to Choose the Best CMA Training Program near Prescott Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Prescott AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, 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 program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma 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 healthcare facility. 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 similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for those 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 solution for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Prescott AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Prescott AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Prescott AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Prescott AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating 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 evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Prescott AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Prescott health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges 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 higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during 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 enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, make certain 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 clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Prescott AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select 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 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 supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott AZ.