How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Baldwin Park California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Baldwin Park CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges 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 briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Baldwin Park CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some choose 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Baldwin Park CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Baldwin Park CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for students 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 attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Baldwin Park CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Baldwin Park CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Baldwin Park CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get 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 elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Baldwin Park CA area medical providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Baldwin Park healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Baldwin Park CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere 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 on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Baldwin Park CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Baldwin Park CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school 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 practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Baldwin Park CA.