How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Course near Calexico 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 Calexico CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate 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 important issues as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should 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 Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Calexico CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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 Training Programs
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required 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 generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade 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 frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Calexico CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Calexico CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Calexico CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Calexico 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 colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Calexico CA area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Calexico health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Calexico CA area and ask 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night 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 still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Calexico CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right 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 lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to 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.