How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Cerritos California
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Cerritos CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated 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 school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Cerritos CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Cerritos CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Cerritos CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Cerritos CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges 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 programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Cerritos CA area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Cerritos health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Cerritos CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might 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 offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just 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 imperative that the college you enroll in provides 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 easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Cerritos CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.