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Become a Medical Assistant Citrus Heights CA 95610

How to Choose an Accredited CMA Course near Citrus Heights California

Citrus Heights CA CMA with medical chartOnce you have decided to enter the gratifying 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 proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials 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 advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and talents you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Citrus Heights CA medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Citrus Heights CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available 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 Education

Citrus Heights CA CMA opening door for patientCompared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Citrus Heights CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Citrus Heights CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Citrus Heights CA student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Citrus Heights CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Citrus Heights CA with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available 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 school.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose 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 about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Citrus Heights CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Citrus Heights medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Citrus Heights CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Citrus Heights CA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Citrus Heights CA Medical Assistant Program

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Citrus Heights CA.