How to Pick a Medical Assistant School near Santa Cruz California
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Santa Cruz CA, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Santa Cruz CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Santa Cruz CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Santa Cruz CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Santa Cruz CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Santa Cruz CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Santa Cruz CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask 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 evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials 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 obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Santa Cruz CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Santa Cruz healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Santa Cruz CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Santa Cruz CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training 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 Santa Cruz California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Santa Cruz CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz (/ˈsæntə ˈkruːz/, Spanish: Holy Cross) is the county seat and largest city of Santa Cruz County, California. As of 2013 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Santa Cruz's population at 62,864.
Situated on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, about 32 mi (51 km) south of San Jose and 75 mi (120 km) south of San Francisco, the city is part of the 12-county San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area.
Santa Cruz is known for its moderate climate, natural environment, coastline, redwood forests, alternative community lifestyles, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to the University of California, Santa Cruz, a premier research institution and educational hub, as well as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park operating continuously since 1907.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant Training Santa Cruz CA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Certified Medical Assistant Training. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Santa Cruz CA.
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