How to Find the Best CMA Training School 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 college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included 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 role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Brentwood CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties 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 confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn 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 generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 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 two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Brentwood CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Brentwood CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Brentwood CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Brentwood CA employers will not hire 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 schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Brentwood CA area healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Brentwood healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Brentwood CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Brentwood CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Brentwood CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info 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 selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.