How to Pick an Accredited CMA School Program near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying 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 provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to pick health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based 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 tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered 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 professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as 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 classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually 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 approach to getting your training may be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, 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 Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Lake Havasu City medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol 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 essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical 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 decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City AZ.