How to Find the Best CMA Program near Brea California
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brea CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Brea CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions 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 tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Brea CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. 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 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Brea CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Brea CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Brea CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Brea CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in 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. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Brea CA area medical care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Brea medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Brea CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator 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 instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Brea CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Brea CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate 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 must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Brea CA.