How to Pick the Best CMA Course near Chino Hills California
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chino Hills CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Chino Hills CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions 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 fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Chino Hills CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma 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 facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Chino Hills CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Chino Hills CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Chino Hills CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Chino Hills CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Chino Hills CA area medical providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Chino Hills health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Chino Hills CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Chino Hills CA, confirm that those times are available. 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 clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Chino Hills CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided 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 Chino Hills CA.