How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School near Ceres California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Ceres CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Ceres CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners 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:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Ceres CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Ceres CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend 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 attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Ceres CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend 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 discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Ceres CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine 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 considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Ceres CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Ceres CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Ceres healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Ceres CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Ceres CA, confirm 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 internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Ceres CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info 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 personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Ceres CA.