How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Program near Arcadia California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arcadia CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Arcadia CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size 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 physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Education
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Arcadia CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 available at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Arcadia CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Arcadia CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Arcadia CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm 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 intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Arcadia CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare 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 lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Arcadia CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Arcadia health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Arcadia 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 signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience 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 full-time, it's important that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Arcadia CA, confirm that those times are available. 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 may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Arcadia CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Arcadia CA.