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How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Brea California

Brea CA medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brea CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Brea CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Brea CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners 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:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing general support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 Courses

Brea CA medical assistant opening door for patientCompared to most 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 choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally 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 ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Brea California woman attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible 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 option for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Brea CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Brea CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected 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 be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Brea CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Brea CA employers will not employ 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 create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at 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 focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.

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

Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Brea 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 a good 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 Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Brea CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out 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 Brea CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, 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 subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Brea CA.