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Become a Medical Assistant Citrus Heights CA 95610

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

Citrus Heights CA CMA holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Citrus Heights CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Citrus Heights CA, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize several strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Citrus Heights CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can 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 health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming 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 authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Training Programs

Citrus Heights CA CMA opening door for patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Citrus Heights CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally 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 ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at California junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Citrus Heights CA medical employers just 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) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Citrus Heights CA student attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Citrus Heights CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges 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 several additional considerations that you must explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Citrus Heights CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to 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 example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish 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 Assistance Offered? Landing that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Citrus Heights CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you choose offers 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 offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.