How to Find the Right CMA Training School near Cerritos California
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean 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 factors also. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Cerritos CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Cerritos 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 essentially two choices 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 generally take about one year to complete, 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 typically 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Cerritos CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended 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, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Cerritos CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want 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 procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Cerritos CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive 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 Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Cerritos CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Cerritos CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Cerritos medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Cerritos CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good 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 Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cerritos CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Cerritos CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on 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 on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.