My name is Nicole and I am a nontraditional student working to become a Registered Nurse in the United States Navy.
Well, that is a Very specific goal.
Why yes it is! It took my over 10 years to commit to healthcare. I have been in and out of the field for quite some time. I had to make sure it was what I truly wanted to do. I did not want to get sucked into it for the wrong reasons. Healthcare jobs pay extremely well. However, that is not enough to keep me interested in working.
I am a Licensed Phlebotomist, a Medical Assistant Student, and I am a few months away from my B.S. in Organizational Behavior. I hope to be accepted into an Accelerated BSN program after I complete my degree. In addition to all this, I am a full-time mom and work part-time as a personal trainer.
I decided to start a blog/vlog to document my journey. I hope that my experiences can help other people who have a desire to pursue a career in the healthcare field. I also want to help people get on the right path and not the path that is impressed upon them. Getting started is intimidating. I was fortunate to have mentors that provided me guidance and resources. My hope is to do the same for others that others have done for me.
No, you do not need to be certified to work as a MA in California. However, many hospitals may prefer or require it. So make sure to check with the institutions you may want to work for. I know of many MA’s who do not have the credential and work as a MA. There is a slight pay difference which may also be affected by work experience as well.
Okay, great. More options! How do I choose?!
Again, this will depend on what you want! Make sure to compare the certifications, cost, benefits of each, and what ever may apply to you.
I will take the CMA, AAMA exam because I want to be a member in addition to having the credential. I also appreciate the ABHES and CAAHEP requirement in order to be eligible for the exam. They truly set a different standard from the other certifications.
I can speak from my experience from formerly attending Brightwood College (a non-CAAHEP/ABHES accredited school) and Pima Medical Institute (ABHES accredited).
I hope this helps to simplify the differences between the certifications. I will try to update the comparison as I get more questions.
Now you know what a MA is. Now I will go over the ways to become a MA! I am not 100% sure about other states, but I do know the requirements for California. They may be similar but make sure to check your state’s laws on requirements.
There are two ways a MA can be trained in California.
They can receive training from a licensed physician
They attend a MA program from a community college or at a Postsecondary or adult school authorized by the Department of Education
I personally have not met a MA who was trained directly by a Physician, RN, or LVN/LPN. However, I am sure situations exist where this is possible. If anyone has received training this way I would really love to hear about the experience!
There are many MA programs available at community colleges and Postsecondary or adult schools.
Here is a spreadsheet of some of the schools and programs available in the San Diego area.
San Diego Mesa College – Offers a Certificate of Achievement in Medical Assisting and an Associate of Science Degree in Medical Assisting. Students who complete this course may be qualified to sit for the following exams:
Concorde Career College – has a diploma/certificate MA program. Students who complete this course may be qualified to sit for the following exams: who complete this course may be qualified to sit for the following exams:
After the ECA – Brightwood College closure (I was a former Brightwood College Student), I decided to be more educated with my school and program research. Creating a visual to help me compare schools and programs helped me to make my decision.
If you open the spreadsheet, I used categories to highlight what each program offered and the differences. The comparison or pro and con method might help you the best if you like the process of elimination.
After obtaining the same information from each school and lining them all up, it was easy for me to make my decision. MA is not the end goal for me, but I do want to be exposed to patient care. I know I want to be to work in Hospitals as well as clinics. Knowing this, I know that having a National Certification as a Medical Assistant may be requirement at Hospitals.
The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants can be considered the highest National Certification for medical assistants. (I will make a post comparing the certifications next week!) This is based on the research I did comparing all of the certifications. After I made that decision, I then chose a program that would enable me to sit for the exam.
Pima is the only school in my area that had a ABHES accredited MA program. This made my decision simple and I chose Pima.
A big thing I want to highlight with post secondary schools or trade schools is that no matter what they tell you, many of your credits will not transfer to a 4 year institution.
I remember someone trying to tell me that when I was a student at Brightwood. I knew for a fact that it would not transfer because of accreditation. Most post-secondary schools, even if they offer a degree, may not transfer credits. This may be applicable to you if you want to pursue a BSN degree and want to transfer classes. In most cases the classes you take at schools like Brightwood and Pima will not be accepted for required classes. THIS IS NOT A DEFINITE STATEMENT, but do your research!
I hope this post can help any future student with choosing between all the programs out there. There are more ways to narrow down options, but this is what worked for me. How did you choose your school program or school? I would love to hear other methods and experiences!
If you have any questions or if my information is incorrect please let me know!
I know I said my next post would be on MA programs and certifications, but I haven’t finished my tables/visuals for the post. My plan is to finish them and post it next week!
I am actually about to study for my next online course that starts tomorrow. I need to be on top of it because it appears to be very demanding. Mainly a lot of reading, analyzing, and writing. Nothing too crazy, but I know once I let my guard down I will end up procrastinating everything and hating life. Plus I also start on campus classes tomorrow too. It is really easy to let things go if I do not stay organized.
I still need to schedule my time dedicated to working on blog and vlog posts. In addition to creating content for work. I know it looks like a lot, but I actually really enjoy scheduling my time out like this. It makes me feel in control of my time. Kind of like a budget, except for time.
I am hoping that doing this daily, weekly, and monthly will help me to manage my time better. I aim to reduce my stress and anxiety, and I also hope to actually accomplish things that I set out to do.
I have been listening to Med School Insiders on YouTube and I love Dr. J’s productivity suggestions. I listen to it when I’m driving and other channels to learn something new while sitting in traffic. I love how technology makes it so easy to stay engaged and productive! (But now I need to learn how to relax too. Hah.)
Are there any methods or hacks that you like to use to stay organized? What do you struggle with? What have you tried? I would really love to hear from you!
I passed out before midnight (Grandma status over here.). I started writing this last night at 9:30 PM on the 31st. I was already feeling sleepy as I wrote this! I think back to a few years ago and I remember always having some kind of NYE plan. Rooftop bar, open bar, karaoke, balls dropping. The fun stuff.
I woke up early and started doing chores yesterday. I love adulting.
Growth can show itself in so many ways. I look at the change of my habits and embrace them. I do miss being able to take shots and dance my butt off until the next day. I imagine that now and feel the sadness of an empty wallet, damage to my liver and kidneys, and the potential hangover. I think I’m good. I’ll take grandma status any day.
I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS YEAR!
There is so much planned. I am about to sit and do all of my scheduling for the this month and the next 6 months. This is what I have coming up so far.
Complete B.S. in Organizational Behavior – Spring
Complete MA Program – July
Complete prerequisites for Accelerated Nursing Programs – ASAP
Volunteer at a hospital
Attend information sessions for nursing programs – as they are scheduled
Increase my bench, squat, and deadlift (125lbs, 185lbs, 225lbs) – June
Be consistent with this blog and complete all the drafts I have (I think I have 18 drafted posts. Haha. :D)
Be a boss with my finances – stick to my budget, give every dollar a job (YNAB), and live simply.
Eat with a purpose. I use food as my therapy and I need to get a handle on my feels.
Finish what I start. I have a tendency to start many projects and not finish them. NOT THIS YEAR! The finish line is so close for a couple of my projects and I will stick to them
There are more for the year, but this is a good list to start.
I AM SO PUMPED. I can’t control it. I miss having this feeling. It was absent the last couple of months of 2018.
I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year festivities.
Why are you talking about MA? I thought you were pursuing BSN?!
That is correct! I am a licensed phlebotomist and currently a MA student. I was licensed as a phlebotomist years ago and love it! The biggest thing missing from the experience is patient care. I want more exposure and more responsibilities as a healthcare provider. I have almost a year before I can apply to an Accelerated Nursing Program. I decided to become a Certified Medical Assistant with a Phlebotomy License so that I can expose myself to as much clinical and patient care experience as possible. I am also hoping to build my network of healthcare professionals so that I can find a mentor like the ones I had on active duty. Now to the good stuff!
Healthcare Organization – Where is a MA on the totem pole?
The healthcare field is huge. It is a little complicated when you have a huge team of medical personnel. Below is a rough example of a private practice organizational chart. I am obviously missing a lot of other departments, but I mainly wanted to focus on what is important, Medical Assistants! (I made the chart so I apologize if it’s too simple!)
The organization chart would have more components in an urgent care clinic and hospital. I will research more details about what is in an urgent care and hospital organization chart if that is something anyone is interested in. But for now I will keep it simple.
Manda the CMA is a CMA (AMAA) from Minnesota. She recorded an awesome YouTube video that generally defines what a MA is and some responsibilities. Click the link to check it out! I like how she explains what a MA is and what they do. As she said each state has their own laws on a MA’s scope of practice.
Definition in the state of California
Medical assistants fall under support staff. They work directly under a physician or nurse. According to the Medical Board of California, medical assistants are defined as
“individuals who perform non-invasive routine technical support services under the supervision of a licensed physician and surgeon, podiatrist, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or nurse midwife in a medical office or clinic setting without the need of receiving a certification.”
It seems straightforward, but I have heard some people confuse MA’s for other positions like Certified Nurses Assistants (CNAs), Licensed Vocational Nurses/Licensed Practical Nurses (LVNs/LPNs), or Registered Nurses (RNs). MAs are different. MAs are unlicensed but they can be certified (I will talk about certifications in my next post!)
MAs often work front office and back office in clinics, urgent care, and hospitals. They work directly under someone who is licensed. This means that a MA cannot perform any clinical tasks without licensed personnel on the premises. (California Law! I cannot assume this is the same in all states. However, since MAs are unlicensed it makes sense that all states would have similar laws or regulations.)
As mentioned earlier, every state has laws regulating a medical assistant’s scope of practice. I could not find a list of authorized procedures, but I found a list of what MA’s cannot do from the Medical Board of California. Some procedures MA’s cannot perform are:
placing the needle or starting and disconnecting the infusion tube of an IV
Administering medications or injections into the IV line
Charting the pupillary responses
Inserting a urine catheter
Independently performing telephone triage
Using lasers to remove hair, wrinkles, scars, moles or other blemishes
Medical assistants are not licensed, and it is not legal to use them to replace highly trained, licensed professionals.
I hope this helped to clarify what a MA is and what they do. I am going to explain MA programs and certifications in my next post.