How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Classes in Flagstaff Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Flagstaff AZ, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students start by evaluating 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, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Flagstaff AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size 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 physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Flagstaff AZ medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available 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 Training Courses and Certification
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Flagstaff AZ employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Flagstaff AZ employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in local Arizona health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Flagstaff AZ is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Flagstaff AZ or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating Arizona schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Flagstaff AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Flagstaff AZ area medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma 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 choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Flagstaff AZ area colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of Arizona medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Flagstaff AZ healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in the Flagstaff AZ area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college in the Flagstaff AZ area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it’s essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Flagstaff AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training in Flagstaff AZ
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re planning 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 get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools 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, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Flagstaff AZ.
Why Did You Want to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to review questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask prospects is "What made you choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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