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Become a Medical Assistant Altadena CA 91001

How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA School near Altadena California

Altadena CA medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Altadena CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Altadena CA, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must organize a number of ideas about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down some concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Altadena CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Altadena CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn 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

Altadena CA medical assistant greeting patientCompared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Altadena CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered 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 general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical 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 related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Altadena CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Altadena California student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Altadena CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Altadena CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Altadena CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Altadena CA area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Altadena healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Altadena 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to see 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 program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Altadena 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 need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Right Altadena CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if 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 need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Altadena CA.