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

Claremont CA medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Claremont CA, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Claremont CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Claremont CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

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

Medical Assistant Programs

Claremont CA medical assistant greeting patientIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Claremont CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at California community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Claremont California student attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Claremont CA area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Claremont CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Claremont CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Claremont CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Claremont CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Claremont healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Claremont CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high 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 can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Claremont CA, make certain 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 any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Claremont CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Claremont CA.