How to Pick the Right CMA Program near Apple Valley California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Apple Valley CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several 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 role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Apple Valley CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties 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 specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many 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 essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational 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 element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Apple Valley CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Apple Valley CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Apple Valley CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Apple Valley CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest 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 about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Apple Valley CA area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Apple Valley health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Apple Valley CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to see 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 to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you enroll in offers 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 available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Apple Valley CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon 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 organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Apple Valley CA.