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Become a Medical Assistant Cerritos CA 90703

How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Cerritos California

Cerritos CA CMA with medical chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Cerritos CA, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must ready several strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.

The Job 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 demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Cerritos CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities 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 instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Courses

Cerritos CA medical assistant welcoming patientIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Cerritos CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component 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 similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Cerritos CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Cerritos CA student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Cerritos CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Cerritos CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Cerritos CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring 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 about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.

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

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer 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 students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might 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 prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school 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 to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cerritos CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Right Cerritos CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type 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 choosing the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.