How to Choose the Right CMA Program near Chatsworth California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chatsworth CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate 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 critical factors as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Chatsworth CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Chatsworth CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Chatsworth CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Chatsworth CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Chatsworth CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Chatsworth CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out 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 example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma 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 decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Chatsworth CA area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Chatsworth medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Chatsworth CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Chatsworth CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, 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 Best Chatsworth CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chatsworth CA.