How to Find the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate 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 issues also. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Lake Havasu City AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can 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 filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, 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 school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few 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 alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Lake Havasu City AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose 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 choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Lake Havasu City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need 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 just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Lake Havasu City healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Lake Havasu City AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Lake Havasu City AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing 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, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City AZ.