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Become a Medical Assistant Baldwin Park CA 91706

How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Baldwin Park California

Baldwin Park CA CMA with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Baldwin Park CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. 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 before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Baldwin Park CA, it's important to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready several approaches about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Baldwin Park CA medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Baldwin Park CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

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

While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered 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 Programs

Baldwin Park CA CMA opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Baldwin Park CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest 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 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Baldwin Park CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Baldwin Park California student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Baldwin Park CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Baldwin Park CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when assessing programs. To assist 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 choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available 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 Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn 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 assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Baldwin Park CA area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Baldwin Park healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance 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 program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care 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 can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience 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 essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Baldwin Park CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Baldwin Park CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Baldwin Park CA.