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

Prescott Arizona CMA holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Prescott Arizona CMA holding door for man on crutches

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Prescott AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Prescott Arizona medical assistant reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityCompared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many 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 basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Prescott AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Prescott Arizona young woman taking online medical assistant trainingThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically 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 option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After 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 students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prescott AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Prescott AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design 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 looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Prescott AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build 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 Support Supplied? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer 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 graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prescott AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Prescott

Enroll in the Right Prescott Medical Assistant School

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to 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 certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Arizona.




 

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