How to Find the Right CMA Degree Program near Cathedral City California
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cathedral City CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 important issues also. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Cathedral City CA hospitals, clinics 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some opt 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Cathedral City CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route 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 designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Cathedral City CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for those 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 option for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Cathedral City CA area medical care 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 right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Cathedral City CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered 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 school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in 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 assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Cathedral City CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Cathedral City healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Cathedral City CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cathedral City CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in 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 college that will provide the right 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 need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to 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 choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Cathedral City CA.