How to Choose a Medical Assistant School near Calistoga California
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Calistoga CA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Calistoga CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based 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 tasked with 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 potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Programs
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Calistoga CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options 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 finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready 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 vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Calistoga CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Calistoga CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Calistoga CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Calistoga CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Calistoga CA area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Calistoga health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Calistoga 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see 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 school while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Calistoga CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Calistoga California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Calistoga CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
The Upper Napa Valley was once the home of a significant population of Indigenous People, called the Wappo during the Spanish colonial era of the late 18th century. With abundant oak trees providing acorns as a food staple and the natural hot springs as a healing ground Calistoga (Wappo: Nilektsonoma, "Chicken Hawk Place") was the site of several villages. Following Mexican Independence, mission properties were secularized and disposed of by the Mexican government with much of the Napa Valley being partitioned into large ranchos in the 1830s and 1840s. The first Anglo settlers began arriving in the 1840s, with several taking up lands in the Calistoga area.
Samuel Brannan was the leader of a Mormon settlement expedition on the ship Brooklyn landing in Yerba Buena (San Francisco) in 1846. He published San Francisco's first English language newspaper, the California Star. Following the discovery of gold in Coloma, Brannan pursued many business ventures, which made him California's first millionaire and became a leader in San Francisco's Committee of Vigilance. Fascinated by Calistoga's natural hot springs, Brannan purchased more than 2,000 acres (8 km2) with the intent to develop a spa reminiscent of Saratoga Springs in New York. "The name of Calistoga was given to the place in the fall of 1867, by Mr. Brannan. It was his boast that he was going to make the place the Saratoga of California, so he spliced the names and called it Cal (is) toga, the middle syllable for euphony. The place had already been previously called Hot Springs by the few Americans, and Agua Caliente by the Spaniards and Indians."
A writer later claimed that Brannan intended to say "I'll make this place the Saratoga of California," but it came out "the Calistoga of Sarifornia". His Hot Springs Resort surrounding Mt Lincoln with the Spa/Hotel located at what is now Indian Springs Resort, opened to California's rich and famous in 1862. In 1868 Brannan's Napa Valley Railroad Company's track was completed to Calistoga. This provided an easier travel option for ferry passengers making the journey from San Francisco. With the addition of railroad service, Calistoga became not only a destination, but also the transportation hub for the upper valley and a gateway to Lake and Sonoma Counties. A 6-meter diorama of this early Calistoga can be seen in the Sharpsteen Museum.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Calistoga CA
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin 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 information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Certified Medical Assistant Duties. But regardless of the type 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Calistoga CA.
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