How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School Program Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Lake Havasu City AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized 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
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice 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 conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Lake Havasu City AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Lake Havasu City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn 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. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Lake Havasu City health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Lake Havasu City Medical Assistant Course
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering 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 certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City Arizona.