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Become a Medical Assistant Atascadero CA 93422

How to Pick the Best CMA Degree Program near Atascadero California

Atascadero CA CMA with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Atascadero 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 subsequently enroll in the best one? Many potential 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 cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Atascadero CA, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready several strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Atascadero CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Atascadero CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Training Programs

Atascadero CA CMA greeting patientIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Atascadero 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 generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, 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 option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Atascadero CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Atascadero California student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Atascadero CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Atascadero CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Atascadero CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting 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, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Atascadero CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Atascadero healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Atascadero CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Atascadero CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Atascadero CA Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.