How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Coachella California
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Coachella CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Coachella CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Coachella CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical 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.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Coachella CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Coachella CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Coachella CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Coachella CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Coachella CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Coachella medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Coachella CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Coachella CA, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Coachella CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Coachella CA.