How to Pick the Right CMA Training Program near Brea California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brea CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is ensure that the Brea CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Brea 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 generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Brea CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Brea CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type 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 evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Brea CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following 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 College Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Brea CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Brea CA area health care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Brea medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Brea 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may 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 greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Brea CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Brea CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning 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 info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of 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 pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brea CA.