How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Course near Alhambra California
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alhambra CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal 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 lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Alhambra CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can 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 professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Alhambra CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Alhambra CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Alhambra CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alhambra CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Alhambra CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out 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 naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Alhambra CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Alhambra health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Alhambra CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alhambra CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Alhambra CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Alhambra CA.