How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Chatsworth California
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chatsworth CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Chatsworth CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty 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 professionals, 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 program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Chatsworth CA area health care 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 right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Chatsworth CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, 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 decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chatsworth 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 look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several 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 plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently 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 program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Chatsworth CA area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Chatsworth health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Chatsworth CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chatsworth CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Chatsworth CA Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chatsworth CA.