How to Enroll In the Best CMA Degree Program near Carmichael California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Carmichael CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Carmichael CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered 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 Education
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Carmichael 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 essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Carmichael CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Carmichael CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Carmichael CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Carmichael CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Carmichael CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Carmichael health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that first job may be a difficult task 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 Carmichael CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication 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 offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Carmichael CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Carmichael CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Carmichael CA.