How to Choose the Right CMA Program near Antelope California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Antelope CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Antelope CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. 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 medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific 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 Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Antelope CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 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 obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Antelope CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Antelope CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Antelope CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Antelope CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Antelope CA area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Antelope healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Antelope CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small 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 practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to see 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 school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Antelope CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Antelope CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type 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 supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Antelope CA.