How to Find the Best CMA School near Chatsworth California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying 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 undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Chatsworth CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific 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 Programs
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Chatsworth CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically 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 prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain 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 comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Chatsworth CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Chatsworth CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Chatsworth CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Chatsworth CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? 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 learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Chatsworth CA area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Chatsworth health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Chatsworth CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may 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 prone 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 school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Chatsworth CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Chatsworth CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chatsworth CA.