How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Baldwin Park California
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Baldwin Park CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" 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 Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Baldwin Park CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may 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 health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Courses
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Baldwin Park CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational 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 usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Baldwin Park CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Baldwin Park CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Baldwin Park CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Baldwin Park CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out 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 schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Baldwin Park CA area healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Baldwin Park medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Baldwin Park CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program 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 Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller 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 possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Baldwin Park CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Baldwin Park CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online 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 right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Baldwin Park CA.