How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Arden Arcade California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arden Arcade CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Arden Arcade CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose 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
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Arden Arcade CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with trade 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 usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Arden Arcade CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Arden Arcade CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Arden Arcade CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Arden Arcade CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower 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 choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Arden Arcade CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Arden Arcade healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Arden Arcade CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction 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 instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Arden Arcade CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Arden Arcade CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Arden Arcade CA.