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How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Calexico California

Calexico CA medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Calexico CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Calexico CA CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Calexico CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Programs

Calexico CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Calexico CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way 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 designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 stated previously, 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 can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Calexico CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Calexico CA woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Calexico 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 training might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Calexico CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Calexico CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Calexico CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Calexico healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Calexico CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide 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 receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere 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 full time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Calexico CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Calexico CA Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Calexico CA.