How to Pick a Medical Assistant School near Barstow California
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Barstow CA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Barstow CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Barstow CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices 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 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who might 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 students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Barstow CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Barstow CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Barstow CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Barstow CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need 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. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Barstow CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Barstow medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Barstow CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Barstow CA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Barstow California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Barstow CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Barstow is a major transportation center for the Inland Empire. Several major highways including Interstate 15, Interstate 40, California State Route 58, and U.S. Route 66 converge in the city. It is the site of a large rail classification yard, belonging to the BNSF Railway. The Union Pacific Railroad also runs through town using trackage rights on BNSF's main line to Daggett 10 miles (16 km) east, from where it heads to Salt Lake City and the BNSF heads to Chicago. Barstow is about 15 miles (24 km) from Yermo, 30 miles (48 km) from Victorville, 62 miles (100 km) from Baker, California and 114 miles (183 km) from Primm, Nevada. Barstow serves as a midway point for drivers traveling between Los Angeles, California (120 miles (190 km) southwest) and Las Vegas, Nevada (150 miles (240 km) northeast).
The settlement of Barstow began in the late 1830s in the Mormon Corridor. Every fall and winter, as the weather cooled, the rain produced new grass growth and replenished the water sources in the Mojave Desert. People, goods and animal herds would move from New Mexico and later Utah to Los Angeles, along the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe, or after 1848, on the Mormon Road from Salt Lake City. Trains of freight wagons traveled back to Salt Lake City and other points in the interior. These travelers followed the course of the Mojave River, watering and camping at Fish Ponds on its south bank (west of Nebo Center) or 3.625 miles up river on the north bank, at a riverside grove of willows and cottonwoods, festooned with wild grapes, called Grapevines (later the site of North Barstow). In 1859, the Mojave Road followed a route was established from Los Angeles to Fort Mojave through Grapevines that linked eastward with the Beale Wagon Road across northern New Mexico Territory to Santa Fe.
Indian troubles with the Paiute, Mojave and Chemehuevi tribes followed and from 1860 Camp Cady, a U.S. Army post 20 miles (32 km) east of Barstow, was occupied sporadically until 1864, then permanently, by soldiers occupying other posts on the Mojave Road or patrolling in the region until 1871. Trading posts were established at Grapevines and Fish Ponds that supplied travelers on the roads and increasingly the miners that came into the Mohave Desert after the end of hostilities with the native people.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program Barstow CA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in What’s A Medical Assistant. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Barstow CA.
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