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Become a Medical Assistant Bakersfield CA 93203

How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program near Bakersfield California

Bakersfield CA medical assistant with medical chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bakersfield CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Bakersfield CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Bakersfield CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses

Bakersfield CA CMA welcoming patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Bakersfield CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Bakersfield California student attending medical assistant online programThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Bakersfield CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Bakersfield CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Bakersfield CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Bakersfield CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Bakersfield CA area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Bakersfield health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Bakersfield CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can 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 instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment 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 to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Bakersfield CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Bakersfield CA Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided 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 Bakersfield CA.