How to Pick an Accredited CMA School near Chico California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chico CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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 offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Chico CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying 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 earn certification. Two of the options 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
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Chico CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Chico CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice 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 a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Chico CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chico CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Chico CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused 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 ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Chico CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Chico medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Chico CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication 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 provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chico CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have 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 due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Chico CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example 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 made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.