How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Brentwood California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brentwood CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Brentwood CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support 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 duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified 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
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain 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 essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Brentwood CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained 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). To qualify to apply for 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, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Brentwood CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Brentwood CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school 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 normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Brentwood CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine 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 naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Brentwood CA area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish 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 Provided? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing 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 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 can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Brentwood CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Brentwood CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.