How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care 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 enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might decide 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 need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Lake Havasu City AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out 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 offered 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 Education
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Lake Havasu City AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should 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 final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify 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 intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Lake Havasu City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Lake Havasu City medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify 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 program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select provides 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 offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Lake Havasu City Medical Assistant Classes
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City Arizona.