How to Find the Right CMA School Program near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's time to select 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 ideal one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Lake Havasu City AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Lake Havasu City AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many 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 Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Lake Havasu City medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that might 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 emergencies.
Choose the Right Lake Havasu City AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City AZ.