How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Buena Park California
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Buena Park CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Buena Park CA, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to pick health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to ready a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Buena Park CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Buena Park CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Buena Park CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Buena Park CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Buena Park CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to 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 instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Buena Park CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Buena Park health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Buena Park CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need 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 more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Buena Park CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Buena Park CA.