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Become a Medical Assistant Chatsworth CA 91311

How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Program near Chatsworth California

Chatsworth CA medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of 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 furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included a few 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 function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Chatsworth CA medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Chatsworth CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Courses

Chatsworth CA medical assistant welcoming patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Chatsworth CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically 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 alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Chatsworth CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Chatsworth California student attending medical assistant online classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals 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 alternative for California students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Chatsworth CA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools 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 several additional factors that you must examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Chatsworth CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast 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 low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Chatsworth CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Chatsworth healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little 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 college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? 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 likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chatsworth CA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Chatsworth CA Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if 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 need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Chatsworth CA.