How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School Program 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 proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the colleges 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 offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Canoga Park CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical 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 performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn 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
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Canoga Park CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Canoga Park CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Canoga Park CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing 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. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students restrict 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 need to explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 accepted 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Canoga Park CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine 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 naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Canoga Park CA area health care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Canoga Park health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools 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 signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select provides 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 offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Canoga Park CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Canoga Park CA.