How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Course Near Prescott Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting 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 Duties 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 Training Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have 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 have earned certification. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Prescott AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students 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 to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Prescott AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Prescott AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school 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. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, 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 Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prescott AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Prescott healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain 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 find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small 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 practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Medical Assistant Course
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges 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, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure 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 start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prescott Arizona.