How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Citrus Heights California
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Citrus Heights CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean 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 issues also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Citrus Heights CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. 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 support 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Citrus Heights CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Citrus Heights CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Citrus Heights CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Citrus Heights CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below 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 School Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Citrus Heights CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop 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 looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Citrus Heights medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Citrus Heights 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 an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Citrus Heights CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan 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 online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.