How to Choose the Best CMA Degree Program near Cathedral City California
Now that you have made a decision to join 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 right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included several 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Cathedral City CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Cathedral City CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative 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 comprehensive 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 component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many 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 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those 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 choice for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually 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 receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Cathedral City CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Cathedral City CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Cathedral City CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Cathedral City medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some 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 program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program 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 certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Cathedral City CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if 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 acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Cathedral City CA.