How to Pick the Best CMA Training Program near Canoga Park California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Canoga Park CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 critical factors as well. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Canoga Park CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Canoga Park CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed 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 two year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Canoga Park CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Canoga Park CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like 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 start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Canoga Park CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Canoga Park CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Canoga Park CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Canoga Park health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Canoga Park 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 an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Canoga Park CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Canoga Park CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied 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 Canoga Park CA.