How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Arizona healthcare settings, concentrated in Lake Havasu City outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting 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 obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Lake Havasu City AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Lake Havasu City AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Lake Havasu City healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask 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 School
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care 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 decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City Arizona.