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Become a Medical Assistant Chula Vista CA 91902

How to Pick the Best CMA Degree Program near Chula Vista California

Chula Vista CA medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chula Vista CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Chula Vista CA, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the leading choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Chula Vista CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Chula Vista CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support 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 potential functions of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Chula Vista CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Chula Vista 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 essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at California junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Chula Vista CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Chula Vista California woman attending medical assistant online programThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Chula Vista CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Chula Vista CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Chula Vista CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Chula Vista CA area medical providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Chula Vista medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Chula Vista CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chula Vista CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Chula Vista CA Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain 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 upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chula Vista CA.