How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Campbell California
Once you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Campbell CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Campbell CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers 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 facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities 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 instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some prefer 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Campbell CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Campbell CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Campbell CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Campbell 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 should look at when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. To begin 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 need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Campbell CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain 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 earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Campbell CA area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Campbell medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Campbell CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high 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 wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
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 furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Campbell CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Campbell CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Campbell CA.