How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Chico California
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chico CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Chico CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting 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
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Chico CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution 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 expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Chico CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Chico CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chico CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Chico CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Chico CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Chico medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Chico CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high 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 large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chico CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Chico CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.