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How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Claremont California

Claremont CA CMA holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Claremont CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided 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 Duties of a Medical Assistant

Claremont CA medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Claremont CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential 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 tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may 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 options 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 Courses

Claremont CA medical assistant greeting patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Claremont CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 Schools

Claremont CA student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Claremont CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Claremont CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Claremont CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 accepted 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Claremont CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn 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 of course you will need to choose 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 ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the California colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Claremont CA area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Claremont health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Claremont CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher 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 wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Claremont CA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Claremont CA Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Claremont CA.