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Become a Medical Assistant Baldwin Park CA 91706

How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Baldwin Park California

Baldwin Park CA medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Baldwin Park CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges 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 short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Baldwin Park CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Baldwin Park CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Baldwin Park CA CMA welcoming patient on crutchesCompared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Baldwin Park CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Baldwin Park California student attending medical assistant online programThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Baldwin Park CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Baldwin Park CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Baldwin Park CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Baldwin Park CA employers will not employ 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 design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in 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 means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Baldwin Park CA area health care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Baldwin Park health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Baldwin Park CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Baldwin Park CA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right Baldwin Park CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right 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 life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Baldwin Park CA.