How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Classes in Palo Alto California
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Palo Alto CA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Palo Alto CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending 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 tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although Palo Alto CA medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training and Certification
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Palo Alto CA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical 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 frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Palo Alto CA employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in area California medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Palo Alto CA is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Palo Alto CA or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when evaluating California programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure 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 intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Palo Alto CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Palo Alto CA area medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused 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 methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Palo Alto CA area colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of California medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Palo Alto CA healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the Palo Alto CA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Palo Alto CA area to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Palo Alto CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant Training Program in Palo Alto CA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing 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, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Palo Alto CA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to review questions you could be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask prospects is "What made you pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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