How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Lake Havasu City 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 generally two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as 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 frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Lake Havasu City AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Lake Havasu City 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 need to explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Lake Havasu City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine 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 enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Lake Havasu City healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Lake Havasu City Medical Assistant Classes
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City Arizona.