How to Enroll In the Right CMA Course near Altadena California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Altadena CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" 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 available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Altadena CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Altadena CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Altadena CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Altadena CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Altadena CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Altadena CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn 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 evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Altadena CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Altadena health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Altadena CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Altadena CA, make certain 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 clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Altadena CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether 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 must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided 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 ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Altadena CA.