How to Select the Best CMA Training School near Azusa California
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Azusa CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of future students begin 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 important factors also. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Azusa CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Azusa CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, 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 may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Azusa CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Azusa CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Azusa CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs 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 college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 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 available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Azusa CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, 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 means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Azusa CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Azusa medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that very first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Azusa CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small 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 possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to see 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 program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Azusa CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Azusa CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper 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 appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind 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 picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Azusa CA.