How to Pick a Medical Assistant School near Palo Alto California
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Palo Alto CA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Palo Alto CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size 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 medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Palo Alto CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options 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 normally take about one year to complete, a few 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Palo Alto CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Palo Alto CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Palo Alto CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Palo Alto CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Palo Alto CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Palo Alto medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Palo Alto CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to see 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 essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Palo Alto CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Palo Alto California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Palo Alto CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Palo Alto, California
Palo Alto (/ˌpæloʊ ˈæltoʊ/) is a charter city located in the northwest corner of Santa Clara County, California, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Palo Alto means tall tree in Spanish; the city is named after a coastal redwood tree called El Palo Alto.
The city was established by Leland Stanford Sr. when he founded Stanford University, following the death of his son, Leland Stanford Jr. Palo Alto includes portions of Stanford University and shares its borders with East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Stanford, Portola Valley, and Menlo Park. As of the 2010 census, the city's total resident population is 64,403. Palo Alto is one of the five most expensive cities in the United States to live in and its residents are among the highest educated in the country.
Palo Alto is headquarters to a number of high-technology companies, including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Space Systems/Loral, VMware, Tesla, Ford Research and Innovation Center, PARC, IDEO, Skype, Palantir Technologies, Houzz, and Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center. Palo Alto has also served as an incubator and as headquarters to several other prominent high-technology companies such as Apple,Google,Facebook, Logitech,Intuit, Pinterest, and PayPal.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Program Palo Alto CA
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially 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 Needed. But irrespective 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Palo Alto CA.
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