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Become a Medical Assistant Arcadia CA 91006

How to Pick the Right CMA Training Program near Arcadia California

Arcadia CA CMA with medical chartOnce you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arcadia CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Arcadia CA CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Arcadia 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Courses

Arcadia CA medical assistant greeting patientCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Arcadia CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Arcadia CA student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Arcadia CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Arcadia CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Arcadia CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you choose 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 intend to become certified, you must 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 program is not accredited by either 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 assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Arcadia CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school'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 school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Arcadia CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Arcadia 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 may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Arcadia CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college 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 employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Arcadia CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Arcadia CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing 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 agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on 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 on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Arcadia CA.