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How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School Near Prescott Valley Arizona

Prescott Valley Arizona CMA holding patient recordsOnce you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Function of Medical Assistants

Prescott Valley Arizona medical assistant holding door for patient on crutches

Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Prescott Valley AZ medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.

Medical Assistant Training Courses

Prescott Valley Arizona medical assistant working with senior patient in skilled nursing facilityIn contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Prescott Valley AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges together with trade 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 classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded 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 have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Prescott Valley Arizona young female attending online medical assistant coursesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, 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 Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Prescott Valley health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

How to Become a CMA in Prescott Valley

Enroll in the Right Prescott Valley Medical Assistant Course

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal 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 need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of 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 certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley Arizona.




 

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