How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Training Program near Atascadero California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Atascadero CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Atascadero CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working 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
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Atascadero CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics 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 junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Atascadero CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Atascadero CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Atascadero CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when researching programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Atascadero CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast 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 those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Atascadero CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Atascadero medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Atascadero 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 a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication 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 greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Atascadero CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Atascadero CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate 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 on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.