How to Select the Right CMA Program near Brentwood California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care 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 go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Brentwood CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Brentwood CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 related field.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Brentwood CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Brentwood CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Brentwood CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Brentwood CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Brentwood CA area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Brentwood medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer 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 graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Brentwood CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Brentwood CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.