How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Burlingame California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burlingame CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes 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 critical factors as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Burlingame CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming 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 can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Burlingame CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical 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 similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Burlingame CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Burlingame CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Burlingame CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Burlingame CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at 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 focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Burlingame CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Burlingame health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Burlingame CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Burlingame 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 also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Burlingame CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Burlingame CA.