How to Select the Best Medical Assistant School near Aliso Viejo California
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Aliso Viejo CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting 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 Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Aliso Viejo CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn 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 essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 normally 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the 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 added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that any 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 learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Aliso Viejo CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Aliso Viejo CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Aliso Viejo CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Aliso Viejo CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Aliso Viejo healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Aliso Viejo 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 medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Aliso Viejo CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Aliso Viejo CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing 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, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Aliso Viejo CA.