How to Find the Best CMA Training School near Altadena California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Altadena CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to research 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 must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Altadena CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, 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 (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 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 option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Altadena CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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). To qualify to take 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 CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Altadena CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Altadena CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Altadena CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Altadena CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Altadena healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing 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 students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers 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 offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Altadena CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Altadena CA.