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How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Arden Arcade California

Arden Arcade CA medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Arden Arcade CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Arden Arcade CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Arden Arcade CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific 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 Training Programs

Arden Arcade CA CMA welcoming patient on crutchesCompared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Arden Arcade CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some 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 two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Arden Arcade California student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have 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 pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Arden Arcade CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Arden Arcade CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Arden Arcade CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 accepted 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Arden Arcade CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

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

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Arden Arcade 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Arden Arcade CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Arden Arcade CA Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Arden Arcade CA.