How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Altadena California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Altadena CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most future 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, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Altadena CA, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must prepare some approaches about how you would like to answer them. Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the leading choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Altadena CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, 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 have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Altadena CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Altadena CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Altadena CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often 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 college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare 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 instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Altadena CA area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Altadena health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Altadena CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Altadena CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Altadena CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program 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 info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Altadena CA.