How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program near Chico California
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chico CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Chico CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can 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 submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Training Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Chico CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Chico CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Chico CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Chico CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the school you enroll in 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 intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Chico CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Chico CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Chico health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Chico CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chico CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical 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 responsibilities.
Choose the Right Chico CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure 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 rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.