How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Arcadia California
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arcadia CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Arcadia CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical 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:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Arcadia CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine 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 normally two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive 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 component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Arcadia CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected 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 be a graduate or will graduate 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.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for students 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 to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Arcadia CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Arcadia CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, 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 enroll in 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Arcadia CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program'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. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Arcadia CA area healthcare providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Arcadia medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer 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 graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend 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 conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Arcadia CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Arcadia CA.