How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Prescott Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential 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 critical factors as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few 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 training and credentials that are offered.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
A Medical Assistant is a highly important and varied position within the Arizona healthcare field. Broadly speaking, a Medical Assistant is responsible for working alongside Prescott Valley physicians and nurses to provide support in administrative and clinical duties. In smaller practices, Medical Assistants will typically be involved in both administrative and clinical work. While in larger practices, Medical Assistants will often be devoted to one area or another and be highly specialized in their individual duties. Whatever role a Medial Assistant plays, it is vital to the overall organization and central to timely and appropriate care of patients.
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Prescott Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Prescott Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Prescott Valley AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to attain, 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 procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prescott Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, 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 Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out 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 want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prescott Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Prescott Valley health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking 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 ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott Valley AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Valley Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper 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 information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, 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 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prescott Valley Arizona.