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Become a Medical Assistant Citrus Heights CA 95610

How to Find the Best CMA Training School near Citrus Heights California

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant holding patient chartNow that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Citrus Heights CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Citrus Heights CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Programs

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant opening door for patientIn contrast 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 choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to 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 training. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Citrus Heights CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Citrus Heights California student attending medical assistant school onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Citrus Heights CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Citrus Heights CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Citrus Heights CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Citrus Heights health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Citrus Heights 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 signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Citrus Heights CA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate 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 on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.