How to Select an Accredited CMA Training Program near Carson California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Carson CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences 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 factors as well. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each 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 type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Carson CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. 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 responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Carson CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Carson CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate 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 CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Carson CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Carson CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, 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 must 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Carson 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 colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously 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 contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the California schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Carson CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Carson health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Carson CA area and ask 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Carson CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Carson CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in health care 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 before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify 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 examination. But regardless of the type 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Carson CA.