How to Select a Medical Assistant School near Brentwood California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brentwood CA, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Brentwood CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities 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 facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Education
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Brentwood CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Brentwood CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Brentwood CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Brentwood CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Brentwood CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out 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 instance, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Brentwood CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Brentwood healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Brentwood CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment 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 important that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Brentwood CA, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Brentwood California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Brentwood CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Brentwood is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. It is located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The population is 51,481 as of 2010, an increase of 121 percent from 23,302 at the 2000 census.
Brentwood began as a community in the late 19th century, and is still known throughout the Bay Area for its agricultural products, primarily its cherries, corn and peaches. Due to urban sprawl many of the old farms and orchards have been replaced by suburban developments since 1990. Brentwood is increasingly residential, with the rate of population growth in the triple digits during the 1990s and 69% from 2000 through 2005.
Brentwood was originally laid out on land donated from property owned by John Marsh, an East Contra Costa County pioneer who acquired Rancho Los Meganos, the land grant that Brentwood is built upon, in 1837 from Jose Noriega. Marsh was one of the wealthiest men in California and was instrumental in its becoming independent from Mexico and part of the United States. His letters extolling the potential for agriculture in California were published in newspapers throughout the East. They resulted in the first wagon trains to California. Marsh encouraged this, and allowed new arrivals to stay on his ranch until they could get settled. Rancho Los Meganos became the terminus of the California Trail. Brentwood was named after Marsh's ancestral home, the town of Brentwood in the County of Essex, England.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant College Brentwood CA
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, 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 Medical Assistant Information. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.
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