How to Select an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Arden Arcade California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arden Arcade CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide 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 carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Arden Arcade CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required 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 school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a 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 alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Arden Arcade CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Arden Arcade CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Arden Arcade CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school 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 aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Arden Arcade CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Arden Arcade CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Arden Arcade healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Arden Arcade CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Arden Arcade CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Arden Arcade CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Arden Arcade CA.