How to Enroll In the Best CMA Training Program near Buena Park California
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Buena Park CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Buena Park CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Programs
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Buena Park CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Buena Park CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected 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 graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Buena Park CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Buena Park CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Buena Park CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting 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 just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting 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 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Buena Park CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Buena Park healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Buena Park CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual 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 teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Buena Park CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Buena Park CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Buena Park CA.