How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Antioch California
Now that you have made a decision 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 school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each 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 credentials and training that are available.
Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Antioch CA, it's helpful to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready a number of ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the talents you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Antioch CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many 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 generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Antioch CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Antioch CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid 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 lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Antioch CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Antioch CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Antioch CA area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Antioch health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Antioch CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Antioch CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Antioch CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.