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Become a Medical Assistant Chico CA 95926

How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School near Chico California

Chico CA medical assistant holding patient chartOnce 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 choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to research a few 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 finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Chico CA CMA taking vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Chico CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Providing general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses

Chico CA CMA welcoming patientIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, 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 (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Chico CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected 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 have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Chico California student attending medical assistant school onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Chico CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chico CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Chico CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the California schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Chico CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist 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 Support Supplied? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Chico CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can 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 increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chico CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Enroll in the Right Chico CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether 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 appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.