How to Select the Best Medical Assistant School Near Prescott Valley Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding 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 right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Prescott Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Prescott Valley AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Prescott Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Prescott Valley medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide 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 students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Valley Medical Assistant College
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized 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 plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget 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 begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley Arizona.