How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Alameda California
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alameda CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Alameda CA hospitals, clinics 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 providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Alameda CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive 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 element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Alameda CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Alameda CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alameda CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. 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, many prospective Alameda CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. 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 obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Alameda CA area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Alameda health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Alameda CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Alameda CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Alameda CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.