How to Pick the Best CMA Training Program near Arcadia California
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care 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 approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting 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 Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Arcadia CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain 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
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Arcadia CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few 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 typically 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Arcadia CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Arcadia CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly 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. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Arcadia CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Arcadia CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready 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 interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Arcadia CA area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Arcadia healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help 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 college has a higher 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 positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Arcadia CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Arcadia CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Arcadia CA.