How to Select the Best CMA School near Brentwood California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brentwood CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Brentwood CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type 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 practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties 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 specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Brentwood CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually 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.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Brentwood CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, 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 can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Brentwood CA medical employers simply will not employ 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) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Brentwood CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available 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 school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously 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. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Brentwood CA area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Brentwood health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Brentwood CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small 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 convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Brentwood CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Brentwood CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.