How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Atascadero California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Atascadero CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
Why Train to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Atascadero CA, it's advantageous to review questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should ready some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Atascadero CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. 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 providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities 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 fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Atascadero CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Atascadero CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded 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 be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for those who might not have 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, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Atascadero CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Atascadero CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program 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 intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Atascadero CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Atascadero CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Atascadero health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Atascadero CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Atascadero CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Atascadero CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective 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 must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided 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 selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.