How to Select a Medical Assistant Program near Pacoima California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Pacoima CA, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Pacoima CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size 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 physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Programs
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Pacoima CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical 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.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Pacoima CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons 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 an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Pacoima CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Pacoima CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Pacoima CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn 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 obviously you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Pacoima CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Pacoima healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Pacoima CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to see 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 school while you continue to work full-time, it’s imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pacoima CA, verify that those times are available. You may 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, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Pacoima California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Pacoima CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Pacoima, Los Angeles
Pacoima is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the northern San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. It covers an area of 7.14 square miles and has a population of over 81,000 people, with a density of approximately 10,510 people per square mile. The vast majority of the population is Hispanic.
Pacoima is bordered by the Los Angeles districts of Mission Hills on the west, Arleta on the south, Sun Valley on the southeast, Lake View Terrace on the northeast, and by the city of San Fernando on the north.
Ed Meagher of the Los Angeles Times wrote in 1955 that the 110-block area on the north side of San Fernando Road in Pacoima consisted of what he described as a "smear of sagging, leaning shacks and backhouses framed by disintegrating fences and clutter of tin cans, old lumber, stripped automobiles, bottles, rusted water heaters and other bric-a-brac of the back alleys." In 1955 Pacoima lacked curbs, paved sidewalks, and paved streets. Pacoima had what Meagher described as "dusty footpaths and rutted dirt roads that in hard rains become beds for angry streams." Meagher added that the 450 houses in the area, with 2,000 inhabitants, "squatted" "within this clutch of residential blight." He described most of the houses as "substandard." Around 1955, the price of residential property increased in value, as lots that sold years prior for $100 sold for $800 in 1955. Between 1950 and 1955, property values on Van Nuys Boulevard increased six times. In late 1952, the Los Angeles City Council allowed the Building and Safety Department to begin a slum clearance project to try to force homeowners who had houses deemed substandard to repair, demolish, or vacate those houses. In early 1955, the city began a $500,000 project to add 9 miles (14 km) of curbs, sidewalks, and streets. Meagher said that the "neatness and cleanness" [sic] of the new infrastructure were "a challenge to homeowners grown apathetic to thoroughfares ankle deep in mud or dust." Some area businessmen established the San Fernando Valley Commercial & Savings Bank in November 1953 to finance area rehabilitation projects after other banks persistently refused to give loans to those projects.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant College Pacoima CA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Curriculum. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Pacoima CA.
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