How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program near Antioch 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 Antioch CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many future students begin by researching 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Antioch CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options available 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
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Antioch CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Antioch CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected 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. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Antioch CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Antioch CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one 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 normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Antioch CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Antioch CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Antioch healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that initial job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Antioch CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college 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 might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? 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 have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Antioch CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Antioch CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on 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 agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.