How to Choose the Right CMA School Program near Canoga Park California
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Canoga Park CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short 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 Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Canoga Park CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending 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 providing direct assistance 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 functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular 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 Programs
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Canoga Park CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred 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 available online too. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Canoga Park CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Canoga Park CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded 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 also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Canoga Park CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, 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 Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Canoga Park CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Canoga Park CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Canoga Park medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Canoga Park CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, 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 Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Canoga Park CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Canoga Park CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school 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 lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Canoga Park CA.