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Become a Medical Assistant Alhambra CA 91801

How to Find the Best CMA Training Program near Alhambra California

Alhambra CA CMA holding patient chartNow that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alhambra CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Alhambra CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Alhambra CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Programs

Alhambra CA CMA welcoming patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Alhambra CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Alhambra CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Alhambra CA woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Alhambra CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alhambra CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Alhambra CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Alhambra CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Alhambra medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Alhambra CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can 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 likely 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 college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Alhambra CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Alhambra CA Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin 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 health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing 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 sure 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 type 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alhambra CA.