How to Choose the Right CMA Degree Program near Brentwood California
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brentwood CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Brentwood CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- 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 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 most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn 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 essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution 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 alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Brentwood CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Brentwood CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Brentwood CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you choose 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining 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 School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is 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 prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose 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 closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Brentwood CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can 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 first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Brentwood CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might 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 furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
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 program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to 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 college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Brentwood CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.