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Become a Medical Assistant Bakersfield CA 93203

How to Select an Accredited CMA School near Bakersfield California

Bakersfield CA medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bakersfield CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Bakersfield CA, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should ready some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Bakersfield CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Bakersfield CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing basic support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices available 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

Bakersfield CA CMA welcoming patientIn contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Bakersfield CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Bakersfield CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Bakersfield CA woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Bakersfield CA area medical 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 option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bakersfield CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Bakersfield CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Bakersfield CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Bakersfield healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Bakersfield CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bakersfield CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Best Bakersfield CA Medical Assistant Program

It's essential 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 goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on 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 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 picking the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bakersfield CA.