How to Select a Medical Assistant School in South Lake Tahoe California
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in South Lake Tahoe 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 pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each 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 Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the South Lake Tahoe CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although South Lake Tahoe CA medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Courses and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many South Lake Tahoe CA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at community and junior 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 classes. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 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 obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential South Lake Tahoe CA employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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 have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in area California health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in South Lake Tahoe CA is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near South Lake Tahoe CA or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching colleges. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when evaluating California programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential South Lake Tahoe CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited South Lake Tahoe CA area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the South Lake Tahoe CA area colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous California medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the South Lake Tahoe CA health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer 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 indicates that it has a broad network of contacts in the South Lake Tahoe CA area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program in the South Lake Tahoe CA area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in South Lake Tahoe CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant College in South Lake Tahoe CA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 supplied 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 South Lake Tahoe CA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask candidates is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must ready several strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
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