How to Find an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Canoga Park California
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Canoga Park CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may want to research 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 must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Canoga Park CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn 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
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Canoga Park CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Canoga Park CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Canoga Park CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, 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 evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Canoga Park CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some 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 many great reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Canoga Park CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school'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 school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose 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 opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Canoga Park CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Canoga Park medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Canoga Park 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 a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention 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 instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Canoga Park CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may 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.
Enroll in the Right Canoga Park CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Canoga Park CA.