How to Select the Best CMA Program near Altadena California
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Altadena CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Altadena CA, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare some approaches about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the abilities you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Altadena CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- 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 can perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Altadena CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Altadena CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty 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 provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Altadena CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Altadena CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Altadena CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting 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, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Altadena CA area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Altadena health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that initial job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Altadena CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care 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 may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Altadena CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Altadena CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain 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 irrespective of the kind 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 picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Altadena CA.