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Become a Medical Assistant Brea CA 92821

How to Select the Right CMA School near Brea California

Brea CA CMA holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brea CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

The Job of Medical Assistants

Brea CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Brea CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific 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 Programs

Brea CA CMA opening door for patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required 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 school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Brea California woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Brea CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Brea CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Brea CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Brea CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused 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 just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the California schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.

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

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention 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 instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential 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, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right Brea CA Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brea CA.