How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Calexico California
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Calexico CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on 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 colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Calexico CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Education
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Calexico CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component 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.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Calexico CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Calexico CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained 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). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind 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 process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Calexico CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Calexico CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Calexico CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Calexico health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that initial job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Calexico CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Calexico CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Calexico CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Calexico CA.