How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Alameda California
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alameda CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
Why Train to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Alameda CA, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down several concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Alameda CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Training Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Alameda 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 essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges as well as 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 frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Alameda CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Alameda CA area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Alameda CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Alameda CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Alameda CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Alameda health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Alameda CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Alameda CA, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Alameda CA Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided 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 selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.