How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Program near Alameda California
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alameda CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Alameda CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties 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 instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized 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 Education
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Alameda CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Alameda CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Alameda CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose 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 decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Alameda CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many 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 schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get 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 opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Alameda CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Alameda health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Alameda CA area and ask 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 medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention 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 instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alameda CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Alameda CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.