How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Course near Alhambra California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alhambra CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" 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 Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Alhambra CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike many other medical professionals, 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 program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options 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 normally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 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 accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Alhambra CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Alhambra CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alhambra CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Alhambra CA employers will not hire 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 prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the California schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Alhambra CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Alhambra medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Alhambra CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alhambra CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Alhambra CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical 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 before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. 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 especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alhambra CA.