How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Brentwood California
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brentwood CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Brentwood CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may 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 at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Brentwood CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend 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 certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Brentwood CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Brentwood CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Brentwood CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Brentwood CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at 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 focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Brentwood CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Brentwood health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Brentwood CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Brentwood CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Brentwood CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning 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 right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.