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Become a Medical Assistant Cerritos CA 90703

How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program near Cerritos California

Cerritos CA CMA holding patient chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Cerritos CA, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize some ideas about how you want to address them. Considering there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.

The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Cerritos CA medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the Cerritos CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered 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

Cerritos CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesUnlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Cerritos CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Cerritos CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Cerritos California student attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Cerritos CA area healthcare 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 right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Cerritos CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Cerritos CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select 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 just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the California schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Cerritos CA area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Cerritos healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Cerritos CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cerritos CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Cerritos CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire 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 on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.