How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School in Hawthorne California
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Hawthorne CA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges 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 Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Hawthorne CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though Hawthorne CA medical assistants may 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 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 Courses and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Hawthorne CA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Hawthorne CA employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in local California medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Hawthorne CA is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Hawthorne CA or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when evaluating California programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure 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 acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Hawthorne CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Hawthorne CA area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing 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 concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Hawthorne CA area schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many California medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with local medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Hawthorne CA healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Hawthorne CA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school in the Hawthorne CA area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s important that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Hawthorne CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant College in Hawthorne CA
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Hawthorne CA.
Why Did You Want to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask prospects is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you want to answer them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
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