How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program near Anaheim California
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anaheim CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting 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 Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Anaheim CA, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you must organize some approaches about how you want to answer them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Anaheim CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type 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 nurses, doctors and other health professionals 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
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Training Programs
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Anaheim CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed 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 two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Anaheim CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Anaheim 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 getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Anaheim CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Anaheim CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Anaheim CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Anaheim health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Anaheim CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anaheim CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical 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 issues.
Enroll in the Right Anaheim CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school 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 need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing 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, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Anaheim CA.