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Become a Medical Assistant Bell Gardens CA 90201

How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Bell Gardens California

Bell Gardens CA CMA with patient chartNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bell Gardens CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Bell Gardens CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Bell Gardens CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses

Bell Gardens CA CMA welcoming patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Bell Gardens CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Bell Gardens CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Bell Gardens CA student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Bell Gardens CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bell Gardens CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few 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 many good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Bell Gardens CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Bell Gardens CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Bell Gardens healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Bell Gardens CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Bell Gardens CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Bell Gardens CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bell Gardens CA.