How to Pick an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Camarillo California
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Camarillo CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Camarillo CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. 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 support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Courses
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Camarillo 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 path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Camarillo CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Camarillo CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Camarillo CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Camarillo 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 colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the California colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Camarillo CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Camarillo healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Camarillo CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare 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 may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Camarillo CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Camarillo CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Camarillo CA.