How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Antioch California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Antioch CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each 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 offered.
Why Train to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Antioch CA, it's advantageous to consider questions you may be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Antioch CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Programs
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Antioch CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available 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 training. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Antioch 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 possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Antioch CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential 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 a number of additional factors that you must examine when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Antioch CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Antioch CA area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Antioch healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Antioch CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during 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 convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Antioch CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Antioch CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.