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Become a Medical Assistant Chico CA 95926

How to Select an Accredited CMA School Program near Chico California

Chico CA CMA with medical chartOnce you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chico CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Chico CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Chico CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type 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 nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some elect 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Chico CA medical assistant opening door for 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, a number of Chico CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma 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 medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Chico CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Chico CA woman attending medical assistant school onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for California students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Chico CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Chico CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 one of these agencies, 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 often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Chico CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get 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 elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Chico CA area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Chico medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Chico CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chico CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Chico CA Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.