How to Select the Best CMA Training School near Antioch California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Antioch CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start 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 location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program 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 process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Antioch CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain 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
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Antioch CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire 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 expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Antioch CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Antioch CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, 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. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Antioch CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Antioch CA employers will not hire 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 colleges develop 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 reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get 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 obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Antioch CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Antioch health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Antioch CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Antioch CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Antioch CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper 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 acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.