How to Choose the Best CMA Training School near Alameda California
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alameda CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Alameda CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Education
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, 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 school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out 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 approach to getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Alameda CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alameda CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Alameda CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast 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 lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Alameda CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Alameda healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Alameda CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout 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 few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alameda CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy 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 Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.