How to Select an Accredited CMA Course near Baldwin Park California
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Baldwin Park 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? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Baldwin Park CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare 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 facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Baldwin Park CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Baldwin Park CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Baldwin Park CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Baldwin Park CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following 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 School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you select 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Baldwin Park CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools 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 choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Baldwin Park CA area medical providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Baldwin Park healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Baldwin Park CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout 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 convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Baldwin Park CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Baldwin Park CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision 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, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Baldwin Park CA.