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Become a Medical Assistant Chico CA 95926

How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Chico California

Chico CA medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chico CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Chico CA, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to choose health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.

The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Chico CA CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Chico CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Chico CA CMA greeting patientUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have 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 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, 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 typically two year programs available at California community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Chico CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Chico CA woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Chico CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chico CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Chico CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges 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 need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Chico CA area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Chico health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Chico CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere 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 program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chico CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Right Chico CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. 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 important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.