How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Bakersfield California
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bakersfield CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students start 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, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (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 colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to 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 type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Bakersfield CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based 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 giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Bakersfield CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Bakersfield CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Bakersfield CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want 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 beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Bakersfield CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, 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 School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine 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 obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school'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 school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Bakersfield CA area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Bakersfield health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Bakersfield CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms 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 indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bakersfield CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships 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 emergencies.
Choose the Right Bakersfield CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain 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 decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bakersfield CA.