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Become a Medical Assistant Altadena CA 91001

How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Altadena California

Altadena CA CMA with patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Altadena CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges 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 credentials and training that are available.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Altadena CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Altadena CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some elect 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 Education

Altadena CA medical assistant welcoming patient on crutchesCompared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Altadena CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, a few 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Altadena CA woman attending medical assistant online programThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for students 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 working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Altadena CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Altadena CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Altadena CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Altadena CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally 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 just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Altadena CA area healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Altadena health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Altadena CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Altadena CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Altadena CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Altadena CA.