How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program near La Quinta California
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near La Quinta CA, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the La Quinta CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties 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 verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of La Quinta CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving 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 similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in La Quinta CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online courses 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 mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible La Quinta CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to La Quinta CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective La Quinta CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering 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 concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting 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, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with La Quinta CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the La Quinta health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the La Quinta CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator 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 furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near La Quinta CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out 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 La Quinta California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the La Quinta CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
La Quinta, California
La Quinta is a resort city in Riverside County, California, United States, specifically in the Coachella Valley between Indian Wells and Indio. The population was 37,467 at the 2010 census, up from 23,694 at the 2000 census. The Robb Report credits La Quinta as the leading golf destination in the US. Among those destinations is the La Quinta Resort and Club, a resort dating to 1926, where director Frank Capra wrote the screenplay for Lost Horizon. The Tom Fazio-designed golf course at The Quarry at La Quinta is ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the United States. In January 2008, the Arnold Palmer Classic Course at the city's SilverRock Golf Resort became one of the four host golf courses for the annual Bob Hope Chrysler Classic PGA golf tournament.
In the late-19th century and early-20th century (1880–1920), agriculture developed in present-day La Quinta and "East Valley" by pre-modern (mountain water runoff or open water springs) and modern irrigation techniques. At the time, California and federal land surveyors declared the sand dunes uninhabitable, only the hard rock ground of the "Marshall Cove" held potential farming and residential development.
In 1926, Walter Morgan established the La Quinta Resort at the northern section of Marshall Cove as a type of secluded hideaway for nearby Hollywood's celebrities and socialites. The Resort was the site for the Coachella Valley's first golf course, coinciding with the construction and pavement of State Route 111 in the 1930s. Further expansion of Washington Street in the 1950s and 1960s connected La Quinta with US Highways 60 and 99 (became Interstate 10 in the 1970s).
Choose the Right Medical Assistant College La Quinta CA
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in healthcare 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 prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing 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 choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Certified Medical Assistant Certification. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in La Quinta CA.
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