How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Citrus Heights California
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Citrus Heights CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best 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, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each 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 training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Citrus Heights CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. 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 tasked with giving 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. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular 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 practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Citrus Heights CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 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 typically 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Citrus Heights 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 perhaps 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 be a graduate or will graduate within 30 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 provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for those 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 solution for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Citrus Heights CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending 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 discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Citrus Heights CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Citrus Heights CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges 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 select a program focused on 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 means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Citrus Heights health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance 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 higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Citrus Heights CA, confirm that those times are offered. You might 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. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.