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Become a Medical Assistant Chatsworth CA 91311

How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Chatsworth California

Chatsworth CA medical assistant with medical chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chatsworth CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in 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 lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Chatsworth CA, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should organize some strategies about how you want to address them. Given that there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Chatsworth CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Chatsworth CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible 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 samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

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

Medical Assistant Training Courses

Chatsworth CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesCompared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Chatsworth CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Chatsworth CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Chatsworth California woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for students who may 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, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Chatsworth CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Chatsworth CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Chatsworth CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? 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, 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 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Chatsworth CA area medical providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Chatsworth healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Chatsworth CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small 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 convenient, try to sit in on 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 anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Chatsworth CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Chatsworth CA Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide 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 life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to 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, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Chatsworth CA.