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How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School Program Near Prescott Arizona

Prescott Arizona medical assistant carrying patient recordsNow that you have made a decision to join 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 right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students start by checking out 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must 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 furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Function of a Medical Assistant

Prescott Arizona CMA holding door for man on crutches

So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Prescott AZ physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.

Medical Assistant Courses

Prescott Arizona medical assistant reading to senior patient in nursing homeUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn 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 two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 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 those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Prescott AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Prescott Arizona young female taking online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit 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 options. Supplemental costs 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 met, but they can usually be performed in Prescott AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine 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 issues that you need to explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Prescott AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Prescott AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Prescott health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Prescott AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Prescott

Enroll in the Right Prescott Medical Assistant Program

It's important 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 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 must get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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 picking the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Arizona.




 

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