How to Pick the Best CMA Training School near Bakersfield California
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bakersfield CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Bakersfield CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers 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 tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Training Programs
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have 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 provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Bakersfield CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Bakersfield CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bakersfield CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are some 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 great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Bakersfield CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask 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 school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Bakersfield CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Bakersfield health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching 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 students, 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 positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might 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 instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Bakersfield CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Bakersfield CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the right 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 acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection 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 agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bakersfield CA.