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Become a Medical Assistant Citrus Heights CA 95610

How to Select an Accredited CMA School near Citrus Heights California

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Citrus Heights CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 factors as well. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Citrus Heights CA, it's important to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must organize a number of strategies about how you want to answer them. Because there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down several ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Citrus Heights CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. 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 responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

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

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

Medical Assistant Courses

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant opening door for patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Citrus Heights CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Citrus Heights CA medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Citrus Heights CA woman attending medical assistant program onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But bear in mind 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 attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Citrus Heights CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, 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 Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Citrus Heights health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Citrus Heights CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to observe 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 school while you continue working 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, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant Program

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal 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 get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.