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Become a Medical Assistant Alhambra CA 91801

How to Choose the Best CMA Training School near Alhambra California

Alhambra CA medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alhambra CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Train to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Alhambra CA, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to pick health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should ready some strategies about how you want to address them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Alhambra CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Alhambra CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical 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. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Training Programs

Alhambra CA CMA welcoming patientUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Alhambra CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Alhambra CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Alhambra California woman attending medical assistant school onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice 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 option for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Alhambra CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Alhambra CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Alhambra CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Alhambra CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Alhambra medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Alhambra CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates 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 individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alhambra CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Alhambra CA Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right 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 lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges 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, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Alhambra CA.