How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Atascadero California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Atascadero CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Atascadero CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based 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 tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Atascadero CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Atascadero CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Atascadero CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating 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 location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Atascadero CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose 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 obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Atascadero CA area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Atascadero health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Atascadero CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Atascadero CA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Atascadero CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if 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 need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make 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 ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.