How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program near Long Beach California
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Long Beach CA, it’s time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. 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 before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Long Beach CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Long Beach CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics 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 available at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design 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 healthcare practice. 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 Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Long Beach CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Long Beach CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably 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 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Long Beach CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 accepted 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Long Beach CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate 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 obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Long Beach CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Long Beach healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Long Beach CA area and find out 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 medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it’s essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Long Beach CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Long Beach California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Long Beach CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city on the Pacific Coast of the United States, within the Los Angeles metropolitan area of Southern California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257. It is the 39th most populous city in the United States and the 7th most populous in California. Long Beach is the second-largest city in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the third largest in Southern California behind Los Angeles and San Diego. Long Beach is a charter city.
The Port of Long Beach is the second busiest container port in the United States and is among the world's largest shipping ports. The city also maintains a progressively declining oil industry with minor wells located both directly beneath the city as well as offshore. Manufacturing sectors include those in aircraft, automotive parts, electronic equipment, audiovisual equipment, petrochemicals, precision metals and home furnishings.
Long Beach lies in the southeastern corner of Los Angeles County and borders Orange County. Downtown Long Beach is approximately 22 miles (35 km) south of downtown Los Angeles, though the two cities share an official border for several miles.
Select the Right Medical Assistant College Long Beach CA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Being A Medical Assistant. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Long Beach CA.
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