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Become a Medical Assistant Alhambra CA 91801

How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program near Alhambra California

Alhambra CA medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alhambra CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Alhambra CA, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare several approaches about how you want to answer them. Considering there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down some ideas and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Alhambra CA CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Alhambra CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Based 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 tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Education

Alhambra CA CMA greeting patientUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Alhambra CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Alhambra CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Alhambra CA woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Alhambra CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alhambra CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching programs. To help 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 selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, 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 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Alhambra CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask 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. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Alhambra CA area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Alhambra health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Alhambra CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Alhambra CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Alhambra CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before 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 covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Alhambra CA.