Certification Options, Career Growth and Resources
Medical assistants in Arizona can choose to work in one or more of four medical fields: Naturopathic, homeopathic, osteopathic or allopathic (traditional) medicine. Depending upon the field, medical assistants might need additional training, certification or registration. Arizona clearly lays out what general tasks medical assistants are allowed to perform under the supervision of qualified medical personnel. Read on to learn more about medical assisting schools and careers in Arizona, including what students can expect from salaries, job growth and certification options.
Best Medical Assistant Schools in Arizona
A high population of retired people means that Arizona high a high need for qualified medical professionals and a degree in medical assisting can help you alleviate some of that need. A quality program will give students the area-specific information needed to succeed in the field and work in various health care environments. Graduates from these programs go on to work in hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics, working with patients on traditionally routine visits and helping with office administrative tasks. We're helping you find the right program for you and your needs with our list of the 2017 Best Schools for Medical Assisting.
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4 - Year Colleges
Northland Pioneer College offers both an associate of applied science degree and a certificate of applied science in medical assisting which will successfully prepare students for post-graduation employment. NPC combines traditional in-class learning with applied learning courses, allowing students to complete applicable hands-on work while developing their theoretical knowledge. Class sizes at NPC are typically small, allowing students to get the facetime with their professors that helps to ensure academic success. Students may apply for a variety of financial aid options, including merit-based scholarships, grants, and loans. NPC further ensures student success by hiring qualified staff members to administer necessary student services, including disability and veteran resources.
An associate of applied science degree in medical assisting earned at Central Arizona College provides students with the required knowledge and experience to begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant. This program's curriculum outlines procedures in vital sign measurement, physical examination preparation, and medical billing and coding. An associate degree from Central Arizona College can lead into a bachelor’s program at a four-year school, or allow students to begin their career after just two years of schooling. Central Arizona College offers a variety of non-traditional courses to accommodate students’ schedules, including online learning, evening learning, and summer and winter courses.
Phoenix College offers medical assisting programs in the form of an associate of applied science or a certificate of completion, either of which can help facilitate a student’s career advancement into the medical field. As is the case with all Phoenix College programs, the medical assisting degree may be partially completed in an entirely online format, allowing students to have more autonomy in building their academic schedules. Many certificates offered at Phoenix College feed directly into corresponding degree programs, allowing for greater specialization and employment marketability. Students can receive academic support through individual tutoring sessions, academic advisement, and disability resources.
As the demand for trained medical assistants has been growing in recent years, several schools like Mohave Community College have developed associate of applied science degree programs in medical assisting to meet this need. Students in MCC’s medical assisting program may also concurrently complete certificates in phlebotomy or in insurance and coding, allowing for further marketability in post-graduation career pursuits. MCC students are able to develop their resume and interview skills by meeting with an MCC career counselor, giving students the best shot at achieving their career of interest. Students transferring in from another institution of higher education may be eligible to have previously earned credit count towards their MCC degree.
Arizona Medical Assisting Training & Certification Requirements
1 How does Arizona define the job of medical assistant?
The Arizona Medical Board defines a medical assistant as: "an unlicensed person who assists in the medical practice under the supervision of a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner and performs delegated procedures commensurate with the MA's education and training. An MA does not diagnose, interpret, design or modify established treatment programs or perform any functions that would violate any statute applicable to the practice of medicine."
2 Does the state require MA certification?
Arizona does not require certification of medical assistants in most fields of medicine. However, the state does require completion of a formal training program, and these programs usually prepare students to sit for the certification examination. In addition, employers might prefer to hire applicants who have earned certification. Those who work in the fields of naturopathic or homeopathic medicine must be registered or certified by the respective State Medical Board of Examiners for those disciplines.
3 Is certification available?
Certification for medical assisting in Arizona can be obtained through any of these nationally-recognized certifying organizations
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- National Certification Career Association (NCCA)
4 Is a formal medical assisting education or training required?
Arizona does require medical assistants to complete an approved training program. Those who work in naturopathic and homeopathic medicine will undergo additional specialized training in those fields of medicine. It is up to the employer to verify that the program has been successfully completed. An approved program might include:
- Graduation from a program accredited by the CAAHEP or ABHES
- Graduation from any program accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education
- A medical assisting program designed and offered by a licensed allopathic physician
5 Are there exceptions to training requirements?
Arizona offers three notable exceptions to the training and education requirements. These exceptions include:
- A medical assistant who completed an unapproved training program before February 2000 and has been employed as a medical assistant since that time
- A person who worked as a medical assistant for the same physician, group of physicians or physician's assistant for at least 2000 hours prior to February 2000
- A person who has completed a medical services training program in the U.S. Armed Forces
6 What tasks are medical assistants in Arizona allowed to perform?
Medical assisting in Arizona follows guidelines set forth by the state's medical board. These guidelines delineate what tasks a medical assistant can do. However, it is important to recognize that the rules vary depending upon the field of medicine in which the medical assistant works. In general, the tasks that a medical assistant in Arizona can legally complete under direct supervision include:
- Taking specimens of bodily fluids
- Administering injections
- Providing whirlpool therapy
- Diathermy treatments
- Electronic galvation stimulation treatments
- Ultrasound therapy
- Massage therapy
- Traction treatments
- Small volume nebulizer treatments
- Hot and cold pack treatments
- TENS unit treatments
Medical assistants can perform the following tasks without supervision:
- Making patient appointments
- Verifying insurance
- Billing and coding
- Recording findings in a patient's chart
- Transcribing materials in charts and records
- Performing visual acuity screening as part of a routine physical
Medical Assistants Salaries in Arizona
The chart below focuses on what Arizona medical assistants can expect to earn compared to the national average.
Source: BLS, 2014
Salaries for Selected Arizona Cities & Areas
Medical assistants might make more or less depending upon several factors, including geographic location. The following chart breaks down what graduates can expect from various areas of the state.
|Lake Havasu City - Kingman, AZ||$24,420||$27,840||$32,120||$13.88|
|North Arizona nonmetropolitan area||$27,040||$32,330||$37,210||$15.92|
|Southeast Arizona nonmetropolitan area||$23,900||$28,310||$33,820||$14.20|
Source: BLS, 2014
Employment Trends for Medical Assistant in Arizona
Arizona's need for medical assistants is expected to outpace the national demand for by a large margin. This is due in some part to the amount of retirees who make Arizona their home. Here's how the numbers stack up:
Medical Assistant Estimated Employment Growth 2012-2022
*Source: Projections Central, 2012-2022
Medical Assisting: Arizona School Spotlight
There are several accredited medical assisting program options at Central Arizona College, ranging from an associate degree and to accelerated curriculums and certificates. Students may find options that fit their schedule, budget and goals. Find out more about the medical assisting programs below.
Central Arizona College
Central Arizona College offers a medical assisting curriculum that creates high expectations: all graduates are expected to become certified after graduation.
Students can choose between the associate of applied science degree in medical assisting or a certificate. Graduates from the associate program are eligible to become Certified Medical Assistants, while graduates from the certificate program are eligible to become Registered Medical Assistants.
Arizona Medical Assistant Resources
As a nationally recognized medical assisting organization, the AAMA oversees the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) designation and has various resources available to aspiring and currently practicing medical assistants.
American Medical Technologists
In addition to providing information on how to become a Registered Medical Assistant, the AMT sponsors local chapters which provide opportunities for medical assistants to advance their career and help others.
Arizona Medical Board - Medical Assistants
The Arizona Medical Board's explanation of the medical assistant profession in Arizona as it relates to how to become one and scope of duties allowed by law.
Arizona Society of Medical Assistants
An affiliate of the AAMA, the Arizona Society of Medical Assistants works help Arizona medical assistants with education, professional advancement and improving patient care.