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Become a Medical Assistant Clovis CA 93611

How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Clovis California

Clovis CA medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Clovis CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical 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 prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

The Job of Medical Assistants

Clovis CA CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Clovis CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific 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 Courses

Clovis CA medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesCompared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Clovis CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving 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 similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Clovis CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Clovis CA woman attending medical assistant school onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Clovis CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Clovis 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 must explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Clovis CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on 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 methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the California schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Clovis CA area healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Clovis health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Clovis CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal 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 instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Clovis CA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Clovis CA Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Clovis CA.