Are you interested in entering into the field of healthcare? If so, you may want to consider pursuing a career as a medical assistant. This role gives you the opportunity to positively impact the patient experience while also boosting efficiency within a healthcare organization. Medical assistants provide both administrative and clinical support, which means they’re performing important office duties as well as assisting with the process of patient care.
Not to mention, you can complete your medical assistant training in less than a year!
To help you get started on your career path, we have put together this comprehensive guide that covers what medical assistants do, what their typical day looks like and how to become a medical assistant in California.
Explore the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below and speak to a member of our team at American Career College if you want to know about our Medical Assistant program!
What does a medical assistant do?
What duties are unlicensed medical assistants not allowed to perform?
Where do medical assistants work?
What are the requirements to become a medical assistant in California?
How long does it take to become a medical assistant?
Does California require medical assistants to be licensed or certified?
Where can I take the certified medical assistant exam?
Is a medical assistant a nurse?
Get Started on Your Medical Assistant Training in California
Medical assistants are unlicensed individuals who are trained to perform administrative tasks in medical offices, as well as certain clinical duties under the direction of a physician. In California, common medical assistant job duties include:
In California, an unlicensed medical assistant is not allowed to diagnose or treat patients, or perform any task on a patient that is considered invasive or requires assessment. It is the supervising physician’s responsibility to ensure that medical assistants are not working beyond their scope of training.
Medical assistants in California work in various types of healthcare environments, including:
In California, medical assistants must receive training in one of two ways before they can perform non-invasive, routine technical support services. These two options for medical assistant training include:
A formal medical assistant training program must include one of the following:
For formal training programs, the duration varies on a program-by-program basis. In our Medical Assistant program at American Career College, you can obtain your medical assistant diploma in 9 months.
Duration also varies for those training under a qualified medical professional. According to the Medical Board of California, “Training shall be for the duration required by the medical assistant to demonstrate to the supervising physician, podiatrist, or instructor.” However, the Board does set minimum standards for training of certain skills (i.e., a minimum of 10 hours of training in venipuncture and skin puncture for drawing blood).
No, medical assistant licensing or certification is not required by the state of California. (In California, a certified medical assistant is referred to as a “qualified medical assistant”). However, employers may set requirements for their medical assistant employees to become certified by a national or private association – as can supervising physicians and podiatry malpractice insurance carriers, according to the Medical Board of California.
Additionally, medical assistants who will be in charge of training other medical assistants must be certified by a Board-approved certifying organization, which can be found on the Medical Board of California's Medical Assistants page or in the next FAQ.
Available in Los Angeles, Ontario and Anaheim
If you want to know how to get medical assistant certification by a Board-approved certifying organization, you can choose from one of the following:
Click the links above for more information on each organization’s certification exam and how to get started.
Certification exams may also be offered by other groups (for those who do not need to go through a Board-approved certifying organization).
No. The key differences between a medical assistant and a nurse lie in licensure requirements and the level of patient care that each type of professional can provide. An individual does not have to be licensed to work as a medical assistant in California, and their work tasks include both administrative and select clinical support duties (under the supervision of a physician), such as drawing blood and performing routine laboratory tests.
In contrast, nurses must be licensed in order to work in California, whether that be as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or a registered nurse (RN). LVNs and RNs are able to perform a broader spectrum of patient care duties, including patient assessments and the development and implementation of care plans.
If you would like to learn more about how you can get started on your medical assistant training, explore our program at ACC! Our Medical Assistant program is available at our three Southern California campuses in Los Angeles, Ontario and Orange County (Anaheim).
With the flexibility of our blended format, you only need to spend two days a week on campus for in-person instruction and coursework. The rest can be completed online.
Learn more about ACC’s Medical Assistant program today!
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