How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School near Claremont California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Claremont CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may decide 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 college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Claremont CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Claremont CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically 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 ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 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 a good choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Claremont 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 possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for students 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 alternative for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Claremont CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Claremont CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Claremont CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask 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 assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Claremont CA area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Claremont healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Claremont 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller 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 sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Claremont CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Claremont CA Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Claremont CA.