How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Antelope California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Antelope CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Antelope CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general 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 specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Antelope CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to attend 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 degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Antelope CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Antelope CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Antelope CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start 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 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Antelope CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn 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 instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the California schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Antelope CA area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Antelope health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Antelope CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Antelope CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Antelope CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Antelope CA.