How to Select the Right CMA School Program near Bellflower California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bellflower CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Bellflower CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Education
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Bellflower CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare 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 together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive 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 involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Bellflower CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Bellflower CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Bellflower CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Bellflower CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? 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 need to determine which of the certifications the programs 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 concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Bellflower CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Bellflower medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Bellflower CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bellflower CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Bellflower CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bellflower CA.