How to Pick an Accredited CMA School Program near Bell Gardens California
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bell Gardens CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Bell Gardens CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Bell Gardens CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals 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 offered at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Bell Gardens CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate 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.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Bell Gardens CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest 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 factors that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Bell Gardens CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in 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 methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Bell Gardens CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Bell Gardens healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Bell Gardens CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bell Gardens CA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Bell Gardens CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example 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 online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Bell Gardens CA.