How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program near Altadena California
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Altadena CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each 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 Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Altadena CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Altadena CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Altadena CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Altadena CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Altadena CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Altadena CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the California schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Altadena CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Altadena health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Altadena CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Altadena CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Altadena CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school 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 lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Altadena CA.