How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Program near Arcadia California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arcadia CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Arcadia CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options available 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
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Arcadia CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Arcadia CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Arcadia CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Arcadia CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Arcadia CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select 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 about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Arcadia CA area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Arcadia healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Arcadia CA area and ask 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 health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Arcadia CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Arcadia CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing 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, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Arcadia CA.