How to Select an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Cathedral City California
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cathedral City CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, 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 available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Cathedral City CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Cathedral City 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 generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to 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 classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Cathedral City CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution 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 traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Cathedral City CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Cathedral City CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Cathedral City CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Cathedral City CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Cathedral City healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Cathedral City CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication 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 offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cathedral City CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Cathedral City CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is 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 before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Cathedral City CA.