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Become a Medical Assistant Atascadero CA 93422

How to Find the Right CMA Training Program near Atascadero California

Atascadero CA medical assistant holding medical chartNow that 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 right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line 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 help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Atascadero CA, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you should ready a number of approaches about how you want to answer them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Atascadero CA CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Atascadero CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Atascadero CA medical assistant opening door for patient on crutchesCompared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of 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 basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Atascadero CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Atascadero CA woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Atascadero CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Atascadero CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Atascadero CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting 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 about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Atascadero CA area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Atascadero healthcare 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 first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Atascadero CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to 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 easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Atascadero CA Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure 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 regardless of the type 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.