How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Training in Los Gatos California
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Los Gatos CA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Los Gatos CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though Los Gatos CA medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Programs and Certification
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Los Gatos CA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Los Gatos CA employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in area California medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Los Gatos CA is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Los Gatos CA or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when evaluating California schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee 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 approved organizations 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 one 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 assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Los Gatos CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Los Gatos CA area medical assistant colleges design 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 schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast 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 lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Los Gatos CA area schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many California medical assistant schools offer internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Los Gatos CA healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students 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 program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the Los Gatos CA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Los Gatos CA area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Los Gatos CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in Los Gatos CA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Los Gatos CA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters frequently ask prospects is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must ready several strategies about how you want to answer them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
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