How to Pick an Accredited CMA Training Program near Chula Vista California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chula Vista CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might 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 need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, 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 function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Chula Vista CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available 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 Education
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Chula Vista CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Chula Vista CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps 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, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Chula Vista CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Chula Vista CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Chula Vista CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school'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 college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select 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 closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Chula Vista CA area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Chula Vista health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Chula Vista CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative 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 Chula Vista CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Chula Vista CA Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chula Vista CA.