How to Enroll In the Right CMA School near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Once 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 school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing 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 residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working 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 confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, 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 school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some 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 normally two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed 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 education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Lake Havasu City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Lake Havasu City healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance 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 college has a high 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 can be an indicator 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 furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Lake Havasu City AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal 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 need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many 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 especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City AZ.