How to Choose a Medical Assistant School near Downey California
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Downey CA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start 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 Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Downey CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Downey CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path 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 six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Downey CA area health care facilities. If you can learn 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 clinical 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 an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Downey 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 perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Downey CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Downey CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Downey CA area medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Downey healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Downey CA area and find out 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 health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller 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 practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Downey CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out 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 Downey California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Downey CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Downey is a city located in southeast Los Angeles County, California, United States, 13 mi (21 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is considered part of the Gateway Cities. The city is the birthplace of the Apollo space program, and is the hometown of Richard and Karen Carpenter. It is also the home of the oldest still operational McDonald's restaurant in the world. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 111,779.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in Alta California, the area that is now Downey was inhabited by the Tongva ethnic group, which came to be called the Gabrielino by the Spanish. The nearest Tongva settlements appear to have been just north and northeast of present-day Downey, although there is difficulty in locating them precisely. The villages of Naxaaw’nga and Sehat seem to have been situated near the present-day community of Los Nietos, or perhaps farther west on sites that were lost to floods of the San Gabriel River. Chokiishnga and Huutnga are other Tongva place names that may have referred to villages in the general area north of Downey between the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo. In all four cases, it is difficult to relate the original location descriptions, based on ranchos and land grants, to more specific sites identifiable by today's landmarks.
Mission San Gabriel Arcángel was initially founded on September 8, 1771, near these concentrations of Tongva population, at a site in the Whittier Narrows on a bluff overlooking the Rio Hondo near the intersection of today's San Gabriel Blvd and Lincoln Avenue. After five years, flooding forced the relocation of the mission to its present site in San Gabriel.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Course Downey CA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal 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 obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Education Requirements. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Downey CA.
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