How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Prescott Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. 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 before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The most versatile health professional in any Arizona healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Prescott medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Prescott 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 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical 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 courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Prescott AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps 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 have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Prescott AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prescott AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Prescott AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prescott AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Prescott healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Prescott AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Medical Assistant College
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Arizona.