How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Prescott Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Prescott Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Prescott Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Prescott Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 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 frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Prescott Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program'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 school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Prescott Valley medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Valley Medical Assistant College
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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 picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley Arizona.