How to Find an Accredited CMA School near Brentwood California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field 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 approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on 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 reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Brentwood 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 responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices available 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
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Brentwood CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Brentwood CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Brentwood CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Brentwood CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Brentwood CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Brentwood CA area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Brentwood medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Brentwood CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication 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 one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Brentwood CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out 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 SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info 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 on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.