How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Program near Imperial California
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Imperial CA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. 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 prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Imperial CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Imperial CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as 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 often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for those 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 certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Imperial CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Imperial CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including 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 alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, 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 discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Imperial CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Imperial CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Imperial CA area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Imperial health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Imperial CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to see 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 program while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Imperial CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Imperial California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Imperial CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Imperial County, California
Imperial County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 174,528. The county seat is El Centro. Established in 1907, it was the last county to be formed in California.
Imperial County comprises the El Centro, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is also part of the Southern California border region, the smallest but most economically diverse region in the state. It is located in the Imperial Valley, in the far southeast of California, bordering both Arizona and Mexico.
Although this region is a desert, with high temperatures and low average rainfall of three inches (75 mm) per year, the economy is heavily based on agriculture due to irrigation, supplied wholly from the Colorado River via the All-American Canal.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program Imperial CA
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re planning to launch 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 prior to making your selection. 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 discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, 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 How To Become A Certified Medical Assistant. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Imperial CA.
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