How to Find an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Anaheim California
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anaheim CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided 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 function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Anaheim CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Anaheim CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Anaheim CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Anaheim CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Anaheim CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Anaheim 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 develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Anaheim CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Anaheim health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Anaheim CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention 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 possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anaheim CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Anaheim CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon 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 a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Anaheim CA.