How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA School Program near Antioch California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Antioch CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may want 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 college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The function 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 successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Antioch CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, 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 mode of getting your education may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Antioch CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate 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.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Antioch CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To begin 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 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Antioch CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program'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 begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Antioch CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Antioch medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Antioch CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual 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 face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Antioch CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Antioch CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.