How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Alameda California
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alameda CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Alameda CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 Programs
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Alameda CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working 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 options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Alameda CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Alameda CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded 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 thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alameda CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Alameda CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Alameda CA area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Alameda healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Alameda CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Alameda CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Alameda CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical 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 decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important 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 made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.