How to Find an Accredited CMA Training Program near Citrus Heights California
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Citrus Heights CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes 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 critical issues also. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Citrus Heights CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Programs
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Citrus Heights CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually 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 best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Citrus Heights CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Citrus Heights CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, 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 Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Citrus Heights CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Citrus Heights medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Citrus Heights CA area and find out 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Citrus Heights CA, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college 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 life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.