How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School near Anaheim California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anaheim CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.
Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Anaheim CA, it's a good idea to review questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must ready a number of ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Anaheim CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular 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 Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Anaheim CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts 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 applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Anaheim CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the 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 earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Anaheim CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Anaheim CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Anaheim CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain 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 elect to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Anaheim CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Anaheim health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Anaheim CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Anaheim CA, verify that those times are offered. You may 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 might 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 Best Anaheim CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. 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 addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Anaheim CA.