How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School in Lewiston California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Lewiston CA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Lewiston CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions 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 tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While Lewiston CA medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education and Certification
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Lewiston CA 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 provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed 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 typically two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive 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 component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Lewiston CA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for 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 Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in area California health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Lewiston CA is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Lewiston CA or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when assessing California programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Lewiston CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Lewiston CA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting 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 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Lewiston CA area colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous California medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Lewiston CA healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts in the Lewiston CA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Lewiston CA area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Lewiston CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program in Lewiston CA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lewiston CA.
Why Did You Want to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask applicants is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you should organize several ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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