How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Program Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!
The Function of Medical Assistants
Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Lake Havasu City AZ medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Lake Havasu City AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential 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? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select 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. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring 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 closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Lake Havasu City health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some 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 high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings 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 easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Lake Havasu City Medical Assistant School
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City Arizona.