How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Alameda California
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alameda CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Alameda CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties 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 tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Alameda CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving 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.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Alameda CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Alameda CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have 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 start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alameda CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Alameda CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges 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 enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Alameda CA area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Alameda health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Alameda CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good 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 Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness 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 to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alameda CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Alameda CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program 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 pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example 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 on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.