How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Tujunga California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Tujunga CA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included several 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Tujunga CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While Tujunga CA medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education and Certification
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Tujunga CA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered 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 one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Tujunga CA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in regional California medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Tujunga CA is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Tujunga CA or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating California programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college you choose 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 need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Tujunga CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Tujunga CA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Tujunga CA area schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many California medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Tujunga CA health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high 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 employers in the Tujunga CA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college in the Tujunga CA area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Tujunga CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily 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 issues.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Program in Tujunga CA
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on 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 organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Tujunga CA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask candidates is "What drove you to choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Since there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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