Home >> California >> Bell Gardens >> Online Medical Assistant Programs


Become a Medical Assistant Bell Gardens CA 90201

How to Pick the Best CMA Training Program near Bell Gardens California

Bell Gardens CA medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bell Gardens CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Bell Gardens CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Bell Gardens CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

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

While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Bell Gardens CA CMA greeting patientCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Bell Gardens CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at California community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Bell Gardens CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Bell Gardens California woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Bell Gardens CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Bell Gardens CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Bell Gardens CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Bell Gardens CA area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Bell Gardens health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Bell Gardens CA area and ask 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 medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Bell Gardens CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Bell Gardens CA Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide 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 need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Bell Gardens CA.