How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Bellflower California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying 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 appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Bellflower CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can 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 filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Bellflower 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 essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Bellflower CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained 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). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Bellflower CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Bellflower CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program 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 plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Bellflower CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting 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, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Bellflower CA area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build 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 Assistance Offered? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Bellflower CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller 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 practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Bellflower CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Bellflower CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bellflower CA.