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Become a Medical Assistant Burbank CA 91501

How to Choose the Right CMA Program near Burbank California

Burbank CA medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Burbank CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program 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 included some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Burbank CA CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Burbank CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health 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:

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

Although medical assistants can carry out 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 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 Programs

Burbank CA CMA opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Burbank CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Burbank CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Burbank CA student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Burbank CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Burbank CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Burbank CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare 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 to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones 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 certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Burbank CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Burbank healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Burbank CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Burbank CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Burbank CA Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays 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 agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Burbank CA.