How to Choose the Right CMA Degree Program near Burlingame California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burlingame CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
Why Train to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Burlingame CA, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you must ready some strategies about how you would like to address them. Since there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
The Duties 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 Burlingame CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Burlingame CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Burlingame CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Burlingame CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Burlingame CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Burlingame CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Burlingame CA area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Burlingame healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Burlingame CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction 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 practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Burlingame CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Burlingame CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Burlingame CA.