How to Pick the Best CMA Training Program near Cerritos California
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 critical factors as well. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided some 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 function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Cerritos CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions 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 fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available 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
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Cerritos CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Cerritos CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Cerritos CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you want 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 process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Cerritos CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Cerritos CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting 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 means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Cerritos CA area medical providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Cerritos health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Cerritos CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator 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 furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cerritos CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Cerritos CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.