How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Apple Valley California
Once you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Apple Valley CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Apple Valley CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Apple Valley CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend 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 degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Apple Valley CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Apple Valley CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Apple Valley CA with the lowest 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 schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Apple Valley CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask 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 college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials 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, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Apple Valley CA area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Apple Valley health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Apple Valley CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high 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 can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Apple Valley CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Apple Valley CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare 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 before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Apple Valley CA.