How to Pick an Accredited CMA School Program near Burbank California
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burbank CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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 type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Burbank CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Burbank CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Burbank CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Burbank CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Burbank 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 must look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Burbank CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting 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, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Burbank CA area medical providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Burbank healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Burbank CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Burbank CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Burbank CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Burbank CA.