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Become a Medical Assistant Claremont CA 91711

How to Pick an Accredited CMA Training School near Claremont California

Claremont CA CMA with patient chartNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Claremont CA, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean 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 issues as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Claremont CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Claremont CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

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

Medical Assistant Education

Claremont CA CMA greeting patientUnlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Claremont CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Claremont CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Claremont California student attending medical assistant online programThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for California students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Claremont CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Claremont CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Claremont CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing 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 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 just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Claremont CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Claremont medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that initial job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify 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 program 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 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 instruction 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 instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Claremont CA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Claremont CA Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Claremont CA.