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Become a Medical Assistant Bell Gardens CA 90201

How to Pick an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Bell Gardens California

Bell Gardens CA medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bell Gardens CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Bell Gardens CA CMA taking vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Bell Gardens CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Giving basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Courses

Bell Gardens CA medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Bell Gardens CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Bell Gardens California woman attending medical assistant program onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Bell Gardens CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Bell Gardens CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

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 choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bell Gardens CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Bell Gardens CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting 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 choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Bell Gardens CA area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Bell Gardens medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Bell Gardens CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bell Gardens 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 also have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Bell Gardens CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on 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 organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bell Gardens CA.