How to Select 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 furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Prescott Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Prescott Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly 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 lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Prescott Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prescott Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Prescott Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help 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 too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Prescott Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Valley Medical Assistant School
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley Arizona.