How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Course near Alhambra California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alhambra CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Alhambra CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain 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
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Alhambra CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Alhambra CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Alhambra CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alhambra CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin 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 need to 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Alhambra CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program'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 those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Alhambra CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Alhambra healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Alhambra CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Alhambra CA, confirm 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 clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Alhambra CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Alhambra CA.