How to Find the Best CMA School near Campbell California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Campbell CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Campbell CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. 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 medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Campbell CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with technical 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 classes. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Campbell CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Campbell CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Campbell CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Campbell CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the California schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Campbell CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Campbell health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Campbell 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 medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator 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 greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Campbell CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Campbell CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire 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 decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Campbell CA.