How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Program near Chatsworth California
Now that 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 appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 also. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Chatsworth CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Programs
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, 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 essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 typically two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical 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.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Chatsworth CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Chatsworth 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 perhaps 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 examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chatsworth CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Chatsworth CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the California schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Chatsworth CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Chatsworth medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have 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 college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have 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 college, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Chatsworth CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chatsworth CA.