How to Find the Right CMA School near Chatsworth California
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chatsworth CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Chatsworth CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Chatsworth CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Chatsworth CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Chatsworth CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Chatsworth CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Chatsworth CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, 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 means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Chatsworth CA area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Chatsworth healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Chatsworth CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Chatsworth CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Chatsworth CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chatsworth CA.