How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School Near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Responsibilities 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 Prescott Valley AZ clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Prescott Valley AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually 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 four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly 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, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Prescott Valley AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prescott Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Prescott Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting 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 ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Prescott Valley medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have 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 program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small 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 convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Valley Medical Assistant Classes
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare 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 prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley Arizona.