Medical Assistant Programs in Arizona: Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant

Medical assisting is on the rise, in Arizona even more so than in the nation as a whole.

Arizona medical assistants work under physicians and physician assistants. A person can become a medical assistant with less than one calendar year of education. There is, however, quite a bit to master. Arizona has set competency standards that specifically address training.

Medical assistants are trained and certified to do both clinical and administrative tasks: one reason they are often referred to as multi-skilled. However, the employer may make a distinction. He or she may refer to medical assistants who do clinical work as “back office”.

Most Popular Medical Assistant Programs in Arizona

Central Arizona College offers an associate degree. The program is CAAHEP-accredited. It comprises 60 units: 23 general studies, 12 core, and 25 ‘degree specialty’; medical terminology and health occupations math and dosage calculations are among the core courses.

Pima Medical Institute holds institutional ABHES accreditation. The medical assisting program is offered at four campuses in Arizona: one in Tucson and three in the greater Phoenix area. The program is 34 credits and awards a certificate. Students have 200 hours of externship.

The Gateway Community College program is newly CAAHEP-accredited. It includes 160 hours of practicum.

Arizona Medical Assistant Requirements

Arizona medical assistants may qualify the through approved education or professional certification. The usual training requirements do not apply to people who completed qualifying programs through the Armed Forces or to certain long-standing members of the medical assisting profession.

To qualify by education, the person will need to complete a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Any other program is considered non-approved. It may be a stepping stone toward certification and qualification but is not qualifying on its own. Medical assistant certification programs are qualifying if they are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies or the American National Standards Institute.

Some employers go beyond state standards. Some mandate that the medical assistant be certified even if he or she has graduated from an approved program that is qualifying under state regulation. Employers may specify a preference for particular certifications.

The following are NCCA-accredited to offer certification programs in medical assisting or clinical medical assisting:

• American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
• American Medical Technologists
• National Center for Competency Testing
• National Healthcareer Association
• American Medical Certification Corporation

The American Association of Medical Assistants offers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential. AAMA certification as a CMA is dependent on formal education. CAAHEP- and ABHES-accredited medical assisting programs qualify. A pilot program began in 2019 whereby a person may qualify based on graduation from a program housed in an accredited school (even if the program is not CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited).

American Medical Technologists offers the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential. A person can qualify by virtue of an accredited program or a program housed in an accredited institution. AMT also has a military training pathway, experience pathway, and instructor pathway. The experience is considerable: five out of the prior seven years. An MA who qualifies by experience will need to show evidence of CPR training.

The National Healthcareer Association offers the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). NHA accepts several training/ education pathways, including formal military training. A person can qualify on the basis of as little as one year of supervised work experience.

The National Center for Competency Testing offers the National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) credential. The NCMA also has multiple pathways including military training and experience (as well as traditional schooling).

Arizona Medical Assistant Scope of Practice

Arizona medical assistants work under direct supervision. Arizona allows them to perform duties that are taught in CAAHEP programs. Approval is for those included in the accreditation standards published in 2015; this is as of 2019 revisions. The Medical Board has noted some additional tasks MAs may perform under the direct supervision of physicians or physician assistants. Among them are whirlpool treatments, hot and cold packs, massage, and some nebulizer treatments.

Top Arizona Employers

Some Arizona medical assistants work for large healthcare systems like Banner Health, Dignity Health, HonorHealth, or Tenet Healthcare. Others work for community health providers, private practices, or urgent care centers. The following are among Arizona’s many employers:

• Phoenix Children’s Hospital
• Valleywise Health
• Mountain Park Health Center
• NextCare Urgent Care Clinics

One will find medical assistants at the forefront of new healthcare models. Business Wire profiled a new Flagstaff Clinic located in a Safeway Clinic (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191216005804/en/Medical-Clinic-Future-Open-Flagstaff-Safeway-Store). At the onset of the visit, a medical assistant or phlebotomist would provide the patient with a tablet that would connect him or her to a provider — and to some very sophisticated technology. The medical assistant might support diagnosis and treatment by drawing blood.

Arizona Medical Assistant Salary and Career Outlook

Arizona has a lot of medical assistants and chances are that number is going up. Arizona has been projected to see 46% MA occupational growth across the 2016 to 2026 decade. It’s tied with Utah for highest projected growth rate in the nation.

Arizona had the 4th highest medical assistant job concentration/ location quotient in the nation in 2018.

Arizona medical assistants averaged $33,410 in 2018. This is based on an hourly mean wage of $16.06. Most medical assistants around the nation are indeed full-time employees.

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan area has the 9th highest MA employment levels of any metropolitan area in the nation. Job concentration is higher, though, in the Tucson, Lake Havasu City-Kingman, and Prescott metropolitan areas.

Resources

The Arizona Society of Medical Assistants is the state professional association (https://asma-az.org).

Related Content:

CNA Programs in Arizona

LPN Programs in Arizona

How to Become an LPN in Arizona

RN Programs in Arizona

How to Become an RN in Arizona

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