How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Classes in Santa Ana California
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Santa Ana CA, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Santa Ana CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals 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:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While Santa Ana CA medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Santa Ana CA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals 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 available at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving 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, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Santa Ana CA employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in regional California health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Santa Ana CA is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Santa Ana CA or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when researching California programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Santa Ana CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Santa Ana CA area medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to 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 instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are those 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 select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Santa Ana CA area schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous California medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Santa Ana CA healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program 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 large network of employers in the Santa Ana CA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Santa Ana CA area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Santa Ana CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant School in Santa Ana CA
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Santa Ana CA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask candidates is "What made you select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
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