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Become a Medical Assistant Atascadero CA 93422

How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Atascadero California

Atascadero CA medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Atascadero CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Atascadero CA CMA taking vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Atascadero CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 Programs

Atascadero CA CMA welcoming patient on crutchesUnlike many other healthcare 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 choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed 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 usually two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Atascadero CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Atascadero CA woman attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Atascadero CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine 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 start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Atascadero CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 acknowledged agencies 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Atascadero CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out 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. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones 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 enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

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

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Atascadero CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? 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 prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need 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 still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right Atascadero CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to begin 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 medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Atascadero CA.