How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program near Bell Gardens California
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bell Gardens CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges 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 Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Bell Gardens CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Bell Gardens CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Bell Gardens CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Bell Gardens CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bell Gardens CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering 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 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 need to complete 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Bell Gardens CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Bell Gardens CA area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Bell Gardens healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Bell Gardens CA area and ask 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 suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bell Gardens CA, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Bell Gardens CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bell Gardens CA.