How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Chula Vista California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chula Vista CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Chula Vista CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working 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
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Chula Vista CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals 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 provided at California junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Chula Vista CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Chula Vista CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chula Vista CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Chula Vista 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 design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools 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 get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Chula Vista CA area health care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Chula Vista healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Chula Vista CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small 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 attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chula Vista CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Chula Vista CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chula Vista CA.