How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School near Burlingame California
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burlingame CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest 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 look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent 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 talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Burlingame CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Burlingame CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Burlingame CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Burlingame CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Burlingame CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start 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 must 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Burlingame CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. 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 obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Burlingame CA area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Burlingame medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Burlingame CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Burlingame CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Burlingame CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Burlingame CA.