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Become a Medical Assistant Cerritos CA 90703

How to Pick an Accredited CMA Program near Cerritos California

Cerritos CA medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cerritos CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective 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, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" 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 Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Cerritos CA, it's important to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare a number of approaches about how you want to address them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Cerritos CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Cerritos CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 CMA welcoming patient on crutchesUnlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Cerritos CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with 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 possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Cerritos California woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Cerritos CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Cerritos CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, 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 need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Cerritos CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on 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 methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Cerritos CA area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Cerritos healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Cerritos CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor 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 Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend 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 more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

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 program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Cerritos CA.