How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Aliso Viejo California
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Aliso Viejo CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must 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 several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Aliso Viejo CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Aliso Viejo CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two 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 training. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 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 idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Aliso Viejo CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Aliso Viejo CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Aliso Viejo CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. First, 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 complete 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Aliso Viejo CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Aliso Viejo CA area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Aliso Viejo medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Aliso Viejo CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Aliso Viejo CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Aliso Viejo CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days 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 select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Aliso Viejo CA.