How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Brentwood California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brentwood CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
Why Train to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Brentwood CA, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize some strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Brentwood CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can 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 practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Training Programs
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Brentwood CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Brentwood CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for students 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 option for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Brentwood CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Brentwood CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To start 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Brentwood CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Brentwood CA area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Brentwood health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Brentwood CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college 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 jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Brentwood CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Brentwood CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing 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, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.