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Become a Medical Assistant Antioch CA 94509

How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Antioch California

Antioch CA medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Antioch CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Antioch CA CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Antioch CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate 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 providing direct support 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 potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 opening door for patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Antioch CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at California junior and community 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 classes. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Antioch CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 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 provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Antioch CA woman attending medical assistant school onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Antioch CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Antioch CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Antioch CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Antioch CA area health care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Antioch healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Antioch CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Antioch CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Antioch CA Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially 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 made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Antioch CA.