How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Training Program near Azusa California
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Azusa CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Azusa CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions 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 samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered 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
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn 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 are certified. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Azusa CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Azusa CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Azusa CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you select 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Azusa CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. 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 instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Azusa CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Azusa healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Azusa CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care 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 can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small 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 convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Azusa CA, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Azusa CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right 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 covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate 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 online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Azusa CA.