How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Burlingame California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care 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 undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating 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, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, 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 type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Burlingame CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Education
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Burlingame CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as 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 classes. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Burlingame CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Burlingame CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including 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 determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure 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 significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Burlingame CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Burlingame CA area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. 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 Support Offered? Finding that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Burlingame CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Burlingame CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is 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 acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Burlingame CA.