How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School near Clovis California
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Clovis CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Clovis CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered 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
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Clovis 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 essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some 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 option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have 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 added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Clovis CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Clovis CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Clovis CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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. Also, if you anticipate 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 Clovis CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at 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. 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 means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Clovis CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Clovis medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Clovis CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Clovis CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Clovis CA Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate 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 need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Clovis CA.