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Become a Medical Assistant Arden Arcade CA 95608

How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Arden Arcade California

Arden Arcade CA medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arden Arcade CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

The Job of Medical Assistants

Arden Arcade CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Arden Arcade CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices available 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

Arden Arcade CA medical assistant welcoming patient on crutchesCompared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Arden Arcade CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Arden Arcade CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Arden Arcade California student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have time to attend 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Arden Arcade CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Arden Arcade CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, 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 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Arden Arcade CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused 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 just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get 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 acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Arden Arcade CA area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Arden Arcade medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that initial job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Arden Arcade CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller 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 convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Arden Arcade CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may 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 might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right Arden Arcade CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Arden Arcade CA.