How to Choose an Accredited CMA Training Program near Cerritos California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students begin by researching 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, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Cerritos CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain 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
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Cerritos CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Cerritos CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Cerritos CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose 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 begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Cerritos CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Cerritos CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Cerritos CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Cerritos healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Cerritos CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend 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 easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Cerritos CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.