How to Choose an Accredited CMA Course near Alhambra California
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying 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 evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate 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 critical factors also. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Alhambra CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may 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 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 submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Alhambra CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Alhambra CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might 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. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alhambra CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you select 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 plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Alhambra CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths 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 elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Alhambra CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Alhambra health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alhambra CA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Alhambra CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate 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 need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Alhambra CA.