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Become a Medical Assistant Azusa CA 91010

How to Select an Accredited CMA Training Program near Azusa California

Azusa CA medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Azusa CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean 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 factors also. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each 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 type of credentials and training that are available.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Azusa CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Azusa CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Training

Azusa CA medical assistant greeting patientCompared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Azusa CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Azusa CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Azusa CA woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Azusa CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Azusa CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, 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 College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee 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 approved 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Azusa CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose 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 one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Azusa CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Azusa health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Azusa CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program 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 contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Azusa CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Azusa CA Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Azusa CA.