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Become a Medical Assistant Brea CA 92821

How to Select the Best CMA Program near Brea California

Brea CA medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brea CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by checking out 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 very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Brea CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Brea CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Education

Brea CA medical assistant opening door for patientCompared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Brea CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive 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 often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Brea CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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 examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Brea California woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Brea CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Brea CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Brea CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially 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, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the California schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Brea CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Brea health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Brea 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 an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller 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 practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Brea CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Brea CA Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brea CA.