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Become a Medical Assistant Altadena CA 91001

How to Choose the Right CMA Training Program near Altadena California

Altadena CA medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Altadena CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short 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 offered.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Altadena CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Altadena CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying 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 may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Altadena CA CMA greeting patientUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Altadena CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a 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 alternative is to obtain 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 diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Altadena CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Altadena California woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Altadena CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might 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 furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict 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 by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Altadena CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn 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. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select 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 closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Altadena CA area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Altadena health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Altadena CA area and find out 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 health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere 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 full-time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Altadena CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Right Altadena CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate 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 online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Altadena CA.