How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Arcadia California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arcadia CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Arcadia CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have 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 essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical 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.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for those 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 option for California students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Arcadia 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 education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates 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. Some possible Arcadia CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Arcadia CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you select 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 intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Arcadia CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Arcadia CA area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Arcadia medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Arcadia 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 a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? 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 one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Arcadia CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Arcadia CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Arcadia CA.