How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Burlingame California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burlingame CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Burlingame CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, 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 program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Burlingame CA medical employers just will not hire 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) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Burlingame CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Burlingame CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you select 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 need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Burlingame CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose 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 closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Burlingame CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Burlingame healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing 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 a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication 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 furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings 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 all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Burlingame CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools 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, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially 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 decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget 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 ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Burlingame CA.