How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Anaheim California
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anaheim CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Anaheim CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Anaheim CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Anaheim CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Anaheim CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Anaheim CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Anaheim CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Anaheim CA area medical providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Anaheim health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Anaheim CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller 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 possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anaheim CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Anaheim CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate 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 acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Anaheim CA.