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Become a Medical Assistant Cerritos CA 90703

How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Cerritos California

Cerritos CA medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Cerritos CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Cerritos CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical 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 performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Cerritos CA medical assistant opening door for patientUnlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required 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 have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided 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 one year to finish, a few 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical 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 frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Cerritos CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Cerritos CA woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Cerritos CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Cerritos CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Cerritos CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Cerritos CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Cerritos health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

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

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cerritos CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may 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 might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Cerritos CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.