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Become a Medical Assistant Chico CA 95926

How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Chico California

Chico CA CMA holding patient chartNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding field 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 subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 credentials and training that are offered.

Why Study to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Chico CA, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare some ideas about how you want to answer them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Chico CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Chico CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Programs

Chico CA medical assistant greeting patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Chico CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Chico CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Chico CA student attending medical assistant school onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative 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 choice for California students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Chico CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chico CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available 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? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine 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 instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Chico CA area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Chico healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide 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. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night 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 all internships or practical training that may 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 emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Chico CA Medical Assistant Training

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting 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 obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chico CA.