How to Select the Best CMA School near Bakersfield California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bakersfield CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean 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 factors also. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools 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 short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Bakersfield CA, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you want to answer them. Considering there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Bakersfield CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Bakersfield 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 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Bakersfield 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 possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Bakersfield CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Bakersfield CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Bakersfield CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just 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 Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Bakersfield CA area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Bakersfield health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Bakersfield 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 medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bakersfield CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Bakersfield CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays 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 decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Bakersfield CA.