How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Prescott Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prescott AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective 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 location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help 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 function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Arizona healthcare settings, concentrated in Prescott outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Prescott AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with 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 training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible 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 possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Prescott AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Prescott AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Prescott AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prescott AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Prescott health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prescott AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Prescott Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is 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 obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure 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 examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prescott Arizona.