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How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona medical assistant carrying patient filesNow that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Flagstaff AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 critical issues also. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Flagstaff Arizona CMA greeting patient on crutches

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Flagstaff AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific 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 Training Programs

Flagstaff Arizona medical assistant reading to senior man in nursing homeUnlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Flagstaff AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Flagstaff AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Flagstaff Arizona young woman attending online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Flagstaff AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide 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 selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Flagstaff AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Flagstaff AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Flagstaff AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Flagstaff healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Flagstaff AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school 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 broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend 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 easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Become a Medical Assistant in Flagstaff

Enroll in the Right Flagstaff Medical Assistant School

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Flagstaff Arizona.




 

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