How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Near Flagstaff Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences 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 factors as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in Flagstaff AZ clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Flagstaff AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as technical 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 courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Flagstaff AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Flagstaff AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Flagstaff AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Flagstaff AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain 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 elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Flagstaff AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Flagstaff healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Flagstaff AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Flagstaff AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Flagstaff Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Flagstaff Arizona.