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Become a Medical Assistant Brentwood CA 94513

How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Course near Brentwood California

Brentwood CA CMA with medical chartNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Brentwood CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Brentwood CA, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What compelled you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should organize some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Brentwood CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Brentwood CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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

Brentwood CA CMA opening door for patientUnlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Brentwood CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges as well as technical 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 courses. They often have a practical element involving 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.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Brentwood CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Brentwood CA student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to attend 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Brentwood CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Brentwood CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Brentwood CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Brentwood CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Brentwood health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Brentwood CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Brentwood CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Brentwood CA Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical 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 decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Brentwood CA.