How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Alhambra California
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alhambra CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Alhambra CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending 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 nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Alhambra 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 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges together with 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 often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Alhambra CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Alhambra CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alhambra CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the college you choose 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Alhambra CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Alhambra CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Alhambra healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Alhambra CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, 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 positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you choose provides 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 more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Alhambra CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Alhambra CA.