How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Program near Burbank California
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burbank CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might decide to research several 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 evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Burbank CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care 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 practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Burbank CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Burbank CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Burbank CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Burbank CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, 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 school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Burbank CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Burbank medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding 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 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 students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing 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 program while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Burbank CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Burbank CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to launch 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 decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Burbank CA.