How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School Program Near Kingman Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Kingman AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Kingman AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type 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 medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Kingman AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Kingman AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Kingman AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Kingman 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 look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 one 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 frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Kingman 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 accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Kingman AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Kingman health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Kingman AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Kingman AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Kingman Medical Assistant College
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools 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 sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Kingman Arizona.