How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training Near Prescott Arizona
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field 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 evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Prescott AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect 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 Education
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Prescott AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many 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 highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Prescott AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from 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 prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Prescott AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Prescott AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Prescott AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Prescott 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 very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prescott 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 health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to 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 easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
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 provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to 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 addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. 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, 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 fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prescott Arizona.