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Become a Medical Assistant Citrus Heights CA 95610

How to Pick the Best CMA Training Program near Citrus Heights California

Citrus Heights CA CMA holding medical chartNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Citrus Heights CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Citrus Heights CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Citrus Heights CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling 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 examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Courses

Citrus Heights CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Citrus Heights CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Citrus Heights California student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Citrus Heights CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Citrus Heights CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Citrus Heights CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of 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 schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn 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 of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Citrus Heights healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Citrus Heights CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Citrus Heights CA, make sure 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 any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate 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 on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.