How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Burlingame California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burlingame CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short 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 Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Burlingame CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices available 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 Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Burlingame CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive 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 applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Burlingame CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Burlingame CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Burlingame CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Burlingame CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Burlingame CA area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Burlingame health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care 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 can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Burlingame CA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Burlingame CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin 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 healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided 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 picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Burlingame CA.