Home >> California >> Antioch >> Medical Assistant Degrees


Become a Medical Assistant Antioch CA 94509

How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Antioch California

Antioch CA CMA with medical chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care 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 approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Antioch CA CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Antioch CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers 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 facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical 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:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options available 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 Courses

Antioch CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Antioch CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Antioch California student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Antioch CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Antioch CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type 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 process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Antioch CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Antioch CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, 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 lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Antioch CA area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Antioch health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Antioch CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can 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 likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Antioch CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Antioch CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.