How to Choose a Medical Assistant School Program near Westminster California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Westminster CA, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Westminster CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Westminster CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed 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 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Westminster CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Westminster CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like 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 discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Westminster CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Westminster CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Westminster CA area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Westminster healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Westminster CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get 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 convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Westminster CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Westminster California?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Westminster CA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Westminster is a city in northern Orange County, California. It is known for a large number of Vietnamese refugees who immigrated to the city during the 1980s, settling largely in the area now officially named Little Saigon, and the city is unofficially known as the "capital" of overseas Vietnamese with 36,058 Vietnamese Americans and at 40.2% (2010), the highest municipal prevalence of Vietnamese Americans.
Westminster is landlocked and bordered by Seal Beach on the west, by Garden Grove on the north and east, and by Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley on the south. Santa Ana, the county seat of Orange County, is right next to Westminster on the east but is divided by a small part of Garden Grove.
Westminster was founded in 1870 by Rev. Lemuel Webber as a Presbyterian temperance colony. The name is derived from the Westminster Assembly of 1643, which established the basic tenets of the Presbyterian faith. During the early years of its history, farmers refused to harvest grapes since they associated grapes with alcohol.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Course Westminster CA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed 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 intend on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Certified Medical Assistant Schools. But regardless 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Westminster CA.
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