How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Burbank California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burbank CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 important issues as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Burbank CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Burbank CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Burbank CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Burbank CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Burbank CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Burbank CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Burbank CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Burbank medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Burbank CA area and ask 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 healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large 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 receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school 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 working on a full time basis, it's important 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 Burbank CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Burbank CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program 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 lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Burbank CA.