How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Pomona California
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Pomona CA, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Pomona CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though Pomona CA medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Pomona CA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Pomona CA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in local California health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Pomona CA is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant program options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Pomona CA or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when evaluating California programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Pomona CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Pomona CA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Pomona CA area schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous California medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Pomona CA medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts in the Pomona CA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Pomona CA area to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Pomona CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical 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.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant College in Pomona CA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal 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 obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Pomona CA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask candidates is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must organize some strategies about how you would like to address them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
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