How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Bell Gardens California
Once you have made a decision 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 appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Bell Gardens CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Training
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Bell Gardens CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Bell Gardens CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Bell Gardens CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Bell Gardens CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Bell Gardens CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin 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 example, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Bell Gardens CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Bell Gardens healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Bell Gardens CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bell Gardens CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Bell Gardens CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bell Gardens CA.