How to Enroll In the Best CMA Training Program near Bakersfield California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bakersfield CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Bakersfield CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Education
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Bakersfield CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn 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 created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma 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 commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred 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 a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Bakersfield CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Bakersfield CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bakersfield CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Bakersfield CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Bakersfield CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Bakersfield healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Bakersfield CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to observe 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 choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bakersfield CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Bakersfield CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bakersfield CA.