How to Pick an Accredited CMA School near Castro Valley California
Once you have decided to become a part of 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 schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Castro Valley CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain 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 have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Castro Valley CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember 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 learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Castro Valley CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 approved agencies 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally 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 school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare 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 to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, 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 methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Castro Valley CA area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Castro Valley medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Castro Valley 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 an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests 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 personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Castro Valley CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school 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 practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm 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 exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Castro Valley CA.