How to Choose an Accredited CMA Program near Buena Park California
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Buena Park CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential students start by evaluating 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short 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 Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Buena Park CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can 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 medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible 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 tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific 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 Training
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Buena Park CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Buena Park CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for students who might not have 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Buena Park CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Buena Park CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, 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, many prospective Buena Park CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Buena Park CA area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Buena Park health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools 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 high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may 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 prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Buena Park CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Buena Park 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 appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Buena Park CA.