How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Castro Valley California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Castro Valley CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective 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 factors as well. You might choose to research 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 must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished 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 function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Castro Valley CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Castro Valley CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few 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 available at California community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Castro Valley CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected 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 be graduating within thirty 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.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Castro Valley CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Castro Valley 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 issues that you need to look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Castro Valley CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Castro Valley CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Castro Valley healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Castro Valley CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might 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 furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school 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 on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Castro Valley CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan 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 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 choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Castro Valley CA.