How to Select a Medical Assistant Program near San Fernando California
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Fernando CA, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the San Fernando CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of San Fernando 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 essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in San Fernando CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible San Fernando CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps 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 be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to San Fernando CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective San Fernando CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out 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 obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes 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, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with San Fernando CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the San Fernando medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the San Fernando CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might 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 prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near San Fernando CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near San Fernando California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the San Fernando CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
San Fernando, California
The city was named for the nearby Mission San Fernando Rey de España (which in turn was named after St. Ferdinand), and was part of the Mexican land grant of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando. In 1874 Charles Maclay, San Fernando founder, bought 56,000 acres (227 km2) of the Rancho. In 1882, cousins George K. Porter and Benjamin F. Porter of future Porter Ranch each received one-third of the total land. In 1885, Maclay founded the Maclay School of Theology, a Methodist seminary in his newly founded town of San Fernando. After his death it became an affiliate and moved to the campus of the University of Southern California and then the Claremont School of Theology.
While most of the towns in the surrounding San Fernando Valley agreed to annexation by Los Angeles in the 1910s, eager to tap the bountiful water supply provided by the newly opened Los Angeles Aqueduct, San Fernando's abundant groundwater supplies allowed it to remain a separate city. In the first half of the 20th century after incorporation in 1911, the city of San Fernando has tried to annex their city limits to Sylmar, Mission Hills and Pacoima, but the city of Los Angeles has kept up their rapid annexation and caused many failed attempts; and by the 1950's, the city said that annexation was hard to do, due to the large beaucracy of Los Angeles. They said that it can never be done again, unless someone makes a petition to LA city neighborhoods to seceede from LA to join with San Fernando in the far or near future. Even as the San Fernando Valley transformed itself from an agricultural area to a suburban one in the decades after World War II, San Fernando retained its independence.
As with much of the San Fernando Valley east of the San Diego Freeway, the city of San Fernando has seen a significant demographic shift in recent years. Declining birth-rates and an aging population of middle-class Caucasians, who once dominated the area in the 1950s, has contributed to the movement into other parts of the San Fernando Valley. There has also been movement into the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys to the north. Latinos became the majority population (the largest percentage in the Greater Los Angeles area at 90 percent as of 2015). Since late 2004, the city has been going through a series of planning development projects, that can be defined as gentrification.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training San Fernando CA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Education Requirements. 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, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in San Fernando CA.
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