How to Select a Medical Assistant Training Program near Atascadero California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Atascadero CA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools 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 short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Atascadero CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based 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 support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt 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 Programs
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Atascadero CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Atascadero 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 education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Atascadero CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Atascadero CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Atascadero CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Atascadero CA area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Atascadero health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Atascadero CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small 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 convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s important that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Atascadero CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Atascadero California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Atascadero CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Atascadero is a city in San Luis Obispo County, California, about equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco on U.S. Route 101. Atascadero is part of the San Luis Obispo - Atascadero - Paso Robles metropolitan area. Atascadero is farther inland than most other cities in the county, and as a result, usually experiences warmer, drier summers, and cooler winters than other nearby cities such as San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. The main freeway through town is the US 101. The nearby State Routes 41 and 46 provide access to the Pacific Coast and the California Central Valley.
Atascadero is a Spanish word loosely translated as bog, from the verb "atascar" which means to become stuck or hindered. Also, in the Chumash language, Atascadero translates into a place of much water.
The area was originally home to the Salinan Indians. In the half century between 1769 and 1823 the Spanish Franciscans established 21 missions along the California coast, including the nearby Mission San Miguel Arcángel, and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and California became a Mexican province. In 1833, the Mexican government secularized the mission lands. Mexican Governor Juan Alvarado granted Rancho Atascadero to Trifon Garcia in 1842, and Pio Pico granted Pedro Estrada Rancho Asuncion in 1845. Patrick Washington Murphy held ownership of 61,000 acres (25,000 ha) at one time.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Atascadero CA
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Classes Online. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.
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