How to Select the Best Medical Assistant School Program 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 select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating 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 issues as well. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short 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 available.
Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Lake Havasu City AZ, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must ready several ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is ensure that the Lake Havasu City AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Programs
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Lake Havasu City AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Lake Havasu City AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Lake Havasu City AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Lake Havasu City AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the college you choose 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many 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 Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring 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 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Lake Havasu City AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Lake Havasu City medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe 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 school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Lake Havasu City AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Lake Havasu City AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective 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 get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lake Havasu City AZ.