How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Program near Atascadero California
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Atascadero CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might want to take a look at several 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 finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Atascadero CA, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the things that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must organize some ideas about how you want to answer them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Atascadero CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers 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 practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Training
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Atascadero CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available 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 liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Atascadero CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Atascadero CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Atascadero CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, 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 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 plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Atascadero CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
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 exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask 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 college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining 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 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Atascadero CA area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Atascadero health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests 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 individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Atascadero CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Atascadero CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning 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 before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.