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Become a Medical Assistant Citrus Heights CA 95610

How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Training School near Citrus Heights California

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Citrus Heights CA, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate 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 evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to research several 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 complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" 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 Role of Medical Assistants

Citrus Heights CA CMA taking vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Citrus Heights CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant welcoming patient on crutchesCompared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Citrus Heights CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Citrus Heights CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Citrus Heights CA student attending medical assistant online programThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Citrus Heights CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Citrus Heights CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Citrus Heights 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 ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally 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. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 1 year. Or you can decide 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 decide to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Citrus Heights health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Citrus Heights CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication 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 provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Citrus Heights CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily 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.

Enroll in the Right Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right 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 lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus 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 subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.