Home >> California >> Aliso Viejo >> How To Become A Medical Assistant


Become a Medical Assistant Aliso Viejo CA 92651

How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Aliso Viejo California

Aliso Viejo CA medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Aliso Viejo CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Train to Be a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Aliso Viejo CA, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some ideas about how you want to answer them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the abilities you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Aliso Viejo CA CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is ensure that the Aliso Viejo CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based 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 providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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

Aliso Viejo CA medical assistant welcoming patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Aliso Viejo CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 normally two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Aliso Viejo CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Aliso Viejo California student attending medical assistant online classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Aliso Viejo CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Aliso Viejo CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Aliso Viejo 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 schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.

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

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Aliso Viejo CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? 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 accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Aliso Viejo CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Aliso Viejo CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Aliso Viejo CA.