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Become a Medical Assistant Cerritos CA 90703

How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Program near Cerritos California

Cerritos CA CMA holding medical chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Cerritos CA, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare several strategies about how you would like to address them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Cerritos CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Cerritos CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

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

While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular 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 Education

Cerritos CA medical assistant greeting patientUnlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Cerritos 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 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Cerritos CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Cerritos California student attending medical assistant online programThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for California students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Cerritos CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type 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 evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Cerritos CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Cerritos CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out 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 college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.

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

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Cerritos CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cerritos CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Cerritos CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.