How to Choose the Best CMA Program near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care 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 schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all 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 training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for individuals 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 solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Lake Havasu City AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you would like 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 covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest 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 should look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, 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 School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, 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 methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Lake Havasu City health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance 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 school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller 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 attend a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just 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 provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Lake Havasu City AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City AZ.