Home >> California >> Arcadia >> How To Become A Medical Assistant


Become a Medical Assistant Arcadia CA 91006

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

Arcadia CA CMA with medical chartNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arcadia CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Arcadia CA, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to pick health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare several ideas about how you want to address them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Arcadia CA medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Arcadia CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some elect 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Arcadia CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesCompared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Arcadia CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Arcadia CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order 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 also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Arcadia California woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Arcadia CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Arcadia CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Arcadia CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

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

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Arcadia CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Arcadia CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Arcadia CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info 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 personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Arcadia CA.