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Become a Medical Assistant Baldwin Park CA 91706

How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Baldwin Park California

Baldwin Park CA medical assistant with medical chartOnce you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Baldwin Park CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Baldwin Park CA medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

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

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Courses

Baldwin Park CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other healthcare 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 have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Baldwin Park CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained 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). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Baldwin Park California student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Baldwin Park CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, 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 beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Baldwin Park CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Baldwin Park CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Baldwin Park CA area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Baldwin Park health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task 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 Baldwin Park CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

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 choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Baldwin Park CA, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Baldwin Park CA Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right 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 life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure 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 subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Baldwin Park CA.