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Become a Medical Assistant Prescott AZ 86301

How to Enroll In the Right CMA Degree Program near Prescott Arizona

Prescott AZ medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to 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 kind of training and credentials that are available.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Prescott AZ medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Prescott AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

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

While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Training Courses

Prescott AZ medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Prescott AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally 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 offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Prescott AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Prescott Arizona student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Prescott AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest 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 considerations that you need to look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 agencies, 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, a number of potential Prescott AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Prescott AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build 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 Support Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prescott AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big 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 likely to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on 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 in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Prescott AZ Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prescott AZ.