How to Pick an Accredited CMA School Program near Castro Valley California
Once you have made a decision 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 college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" 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.
Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Castro Valley CA, it's advantageous to review questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare a number of ideas about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the abilities you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Castro Valley CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few 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 rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Castro Valley CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at California junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Castro Valley CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed 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 receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like 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 process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Castro Valley CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Castro Valley CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the California schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Castro Valley CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Castro Valley healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing 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 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 Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, make certain that those times are offered. 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 may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Castro Valley CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, 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 online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Castro Valley CA.