How to Pick the Best CMA School near Bellflower California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bellflower CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Bellflower CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities 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 tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Bellflower 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 essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 normally two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Bellflower CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Bellflower CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Bellflower CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered 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 Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep 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 obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Bellflower CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Bellflower healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Bellflower CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school 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 wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bellflower CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Bellflower CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bellflower CA.