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Become a Medical Assistant Prescott AZ 86301

How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Prescott Arizona

Prescott AZ medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 type of credentials and training that are available.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Prescott AZ medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Prescott AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available 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 Programs

Prescott AZ CMA welcoming patientCompared to most other healthcare practitioners, 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 (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 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 comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

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 time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Prescott AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance 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 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prescott AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Prescott AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prescott AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Prescott health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating 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 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 Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Prescott AZ Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott AZ.