How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Course near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students start by checking out 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route 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 six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Lake Havasu City AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial 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. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded 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 have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, 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 Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, 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 means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Lake Havasu City health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Lake Havasu City AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate 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 sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City AZ.