How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School near Cathedral City California
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field 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 appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools 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 talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties 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 centers where they work operate successfully. 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 physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Cathedral City 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 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Cathedral City CA area health 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 option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Cathedral City CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Cathedral City CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when researching schools. To help 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 College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Cathedral City CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want 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 just one of the means 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 Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Cathedral City CA area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Cathedral City healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cathedral City CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Cathedral City CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Cathedral City CA.