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Become a Medical Assistant Bell Gardens CA 90201

How to Choose an Accredited CMA Training Program near Bell Gardens California

Bell Gardens CA CMA holding patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bell Gardens CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" 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 Job of a Medical Assistant

Bell Gardens CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

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

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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

Bell Gardens CA CMA welcoming patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Bell Gardens CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Bell Gardens California student attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary 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 met, but they can usually be completed in Bell Gardens CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Bell Gardens CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bell Gardens CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Bell Gardens CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate 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 opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the California schools 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 Bell Gardens CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Bell Gardens healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bell Gardens CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Bell Gardens CA Medical Assistant Program

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bell Gardens CA.