How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Course near Canoga Park California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Canoga Park CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean 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 critical issues also. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Canoga Park CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Canoga Park CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 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 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 too. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Canoga Park CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Canoga Park CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Canoga Park CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Canoga Park CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare 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 example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Canoga Park CA area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Canoga Park health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide 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 students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to see 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 working full time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Canoga Park CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may 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.
Choose the Right Canoga Park CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided 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 selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Canoga Park CA.