How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Carmichael California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Carmichael CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all 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 type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Carmichael CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Carmichael CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Carmichael CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Carmichael CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Carmichael CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Carmichael CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out 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 of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Carmichael CA area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Carmichael health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Carmichael CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Carmichael CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Carmichael CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget 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 ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Carmichael CA.