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Become a Medical Assistant Canoga Park CA 91303

How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Canoga Park California

Canoga Park CA CMA with patient chartOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Canoga Park CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

Why Train to Become a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Canoga Park CA, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you pick health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Canoga Park CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Canoga Park CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs

Canoga Park CA medical assistant welcoming patientCompared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Canoga Park CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, a few 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 usually two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive 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 component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Canoga Park CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Canoga Park California student attending medical assistant online classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Canoga Park CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Canoga Park CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Canoga Park CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one 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. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Canoga Park CA area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Canoga Park healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Canoga Park CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might 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 likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Canoga Park CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Canoga Park CA Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Canoga Park CA.