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Become a Medical Assistant Chico CA 95926

How to Find the Right CMA School Program near Chico California

Chico CA CMA holding patient chartNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chico CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students begin by researching 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Chico CA CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Chico CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular 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 Training Courses

Chico CA medical assistant welcoming patient on crutchesUnlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Chico CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Chico California student attending medical assistant school onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Chico CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Chico CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Chico CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To start 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 must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Chico CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Chico CA area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Chico health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Chico CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Chico CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Best Chico CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.