How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School near Atascadero California
Now that you have made a decision to join 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 provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Atascadero CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Atascadero CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually 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 normally two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade 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 classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Atascadero CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Atascadero CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Atascadero CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Atascadero CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Atascadero CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Atascadero health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Getting that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Atascadero CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program 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 large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Atascadero CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Atascadero CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.