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How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Prescott Arizona

Prescott Arizona medical assistant carrying patient chartOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing 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 homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to take a look at some 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 carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

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The Role of a Medical Assistant

Prescott Arizona CMA greeting man using crutches

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 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

Prescott Arizona medical assistant reading to senior patient in nursing homeUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Prescott AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 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 usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical 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 related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Prescott AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly 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 examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Prescott Arizona young female taking online medical assistant coursesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who may 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 working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Prescott AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prescott AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, 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 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Prescott AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prescott AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Prescott healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Prescott AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Train to Be a CMA in Prescott

Enroll in the Right Prescott Medical Assistant School

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Arizona.




 

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