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How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Antioch California

Antioch CA medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Antioch CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 offered.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Antioch CA CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Antioch CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Programs

Antioch CA CMA opening door for patient on crutchesCompared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Antioch CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 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 typically two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Antioch CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Antioch CA woman attending medical assistant school onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Antioch CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Antioch CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Antioch CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine 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 want to choose a program targeting 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 school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Antioch CA area medical providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Antioch healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Antioch 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 health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Antioch CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Antioch CA Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.