How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program near Antioch California
Once 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 select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Antioch CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type 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 medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Antioch CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied 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 an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Antioch CA medical employers simply 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) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for 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 also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Antioch CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Antioch CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently 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 program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish 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 are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Antioch CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop 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 Furnished? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance 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 program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to 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 easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Antioch CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is 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 get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. 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 exam. 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.