How to Choose a Medical Assistant School near Agoura Hills California
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Agoura Hills CA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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 as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Agoura Hills CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting 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
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Agoura Hills CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Agoura Hills CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Agoura Hills CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected 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. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Agoura Hills CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Agoura Hills CA employers will not hire 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 develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Agoura Hills CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Agoura Hills medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that initial job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Agoura Hills CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Agoura Hills CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Agoura Hills California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Agoura Hills CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Agoura Hills, California
Agoura Hills (/əˈɡɒrə/ (listen)) is a city in Los Angeles County, California. Its population was estimated to be at 20,843 in 2014, up from 20,537 at the 2000 census. It is in the eastern Conejo Valley between the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains. The city is on the border between the county of Los Angeles to the east and south, and Ventura County to the north and west. It is about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Downtown Los Angeles and less than 10 miles (16 km) west of the Los Angeles city limits (Woodland Hills). Agoura Hills and unincorporated Agoura sit next to Calabasas, Oak Park, and Westlake Village.
The area was first settled by the Chumash Native Americans around 10,000 years ago. As the Alta California (Upper California) coast was settled by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in the late 18th century, the El Camino Real (the Royal Road or King's Highway), a road from Loreto, Baja California, Mexico to Sonoma, California, and connecting the Spanish missions in California, was established through the heart of what would later be known as Agoura Hills.
In about 1800, Miguel Ortega was granted a Spanish grazing concession called Rancho Las Virgenes or El Rancho de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Las Virgenes. The grant was abandoned after Ortega's death in 1810, and José Maria Dominguez was given Rancho Las Virgenes as a Mexican land grant in 1834. Maria Antonia Machado de Reyes purchased the rancho from Dominguez in 1845. (The "Reyes Adobe" ranch headquarters sits today in central Agoura Hills, where it is part of the Reyes Adobe Museum built around 2004 and owned by the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department.)
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant College Agoura Hills CA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering 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 sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Programs. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Agoura Hills CA.
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