How to Find the Best CMA School Program near Castro Valley California
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Castro Valley CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Castro Valley CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties 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 tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some elect 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Castro Valley CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical 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 training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Castro Valley CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the 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 to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Castro Valley CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential 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 by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective 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 prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Castro Valley CA area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Castro Valley health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating 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 affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal 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 teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Castro Valley CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Castro Valley CA.