How to Choose a Medical Assistant School near Castaic California
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Castaic CA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Castaic CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based 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 responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular 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
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Castaic CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Castaic CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Castaic CA medical employers just 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Castaic CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Castaic CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Castaic CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Castaic medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Castaic CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it’s imperative that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Castaic CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Castaic California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Castaic CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Castaic, California (also spelled Castec, or Kashtiq; pronunciation is a source of contention between older and newer residents, see below) is an unincorporated community located in the northern part of Los Angeles County, California. Many thousands of motorists pass through Castaic daily as they drive to or from Los Angeles on Interstate 5. Castaic Lake is part of the California Water Project and is the site of a hydro-electric power plant. Castaic is 41.7 miles (67.1 km) northwest of Los Angeles Union Station and due north of the city of Santa Clarita, California.
On Spanish documents, the original spelling was Castec, which represented the Chumash Native American word Kashtiq, meaning "eyes" or "wet spot." Castec is first mentioned on old boundary maps of Rancho San Francisco, as a canyon at the trailhead leading to the old Chumash camp at Castac Lake (Tejon Ranch), which is intermittently wet and briny.
Modern Castaic began in 1887 when Southern Pacific set up a railroad siding on the line between Piru and Saugus Station, naming it "Castaic Junction". Between January and April 1890, the Castec School District adopted the new spelling, Castaic.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant College Castaic CA
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as 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 Clinical Medical Assistant Training. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Castaic CA.
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