How to Select a Medical Assistant School in Lakeside Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Lakeside AZ, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Lakeside AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. 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 providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions 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
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although Lakeside AZ medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs and Certification
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Lakeside AZ employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Lakeside AZ employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in area Arizona healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Lakeside AZ is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Lakeside AZ or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when assessing Arizona programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Lakeside AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Lakeside AZ area medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Lakeside AZ area colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Arizona medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with local medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Lakeside AZ health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts in the Lakeside AZ area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction 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 teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Lakeside AZ area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Lakeside AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant College in Lakeside AZ
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in medical 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 decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lakeside AZ.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters typically ask prospects is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to organize several ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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