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Become a Medical Assistant Chico CA 95926

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

Chico CA CMA holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chico CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Chico CA, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Chico CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Chico CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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

Chico CA CMA welcoming patientCompared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Chico 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 two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Chico CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify 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. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Chico CA student attending medical assistant school onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Chico CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Chico CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Chico CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Chico CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Chico healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Chico CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

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

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Chico CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Chico CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.