How to Enroll In the Best CMA Training School near Bellflower California
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bellflower CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean 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 factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Bellflower CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare 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 support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many 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 essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire 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 expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring 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 related field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often 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 getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, 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 can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Bellflower CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Bellflower CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Bellflower CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, 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 evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Bellflower CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Bellflower health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Bellflower CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Bellflower CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical 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 Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin 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 appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bellflower CA.