How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Castro Valley California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Castro Valley CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to research 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 schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Castro Valley CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health 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:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Castro Valley CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually 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 four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Castro Valley CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Castro Valley CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, 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 procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Castro Valley CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Castro Valley CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Castro Valley CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Castro Valley medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide 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 graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to 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 easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Castro Valley CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right 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 lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Castro Valley CA.