How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program near Cathedral City California
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cathedral City CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type 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 job is to make sure that the Cathedral City CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available 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 Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Cathedral City CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 two year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Cathedral City CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Cathedral City CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending 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 discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Cathedral City CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive 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 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Cathedral City CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school'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 school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Cathedral City CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Cathedral City health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Cathedral City CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school 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 employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Cathedral City CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Cathedral City CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays 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 select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Cathedral City CA.