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Become a Medical Assistant Cerritos CA 90703

How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Cerritos California

Cerritos CA medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Cerritos CA CMA taking vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Cerritos CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities 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 fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some opt 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Cerritos CA medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesUnlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Cerritos CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational 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 related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Cerritos CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Cerritos California student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice 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 option for California students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Cerritos CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Cerritos CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered 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 college.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? 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 need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Cerritos CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Cerritos medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Cerritos CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cerritos CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Cerritos CA Medical Assistant Program

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.