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Become a Medical Assistant Alameda CA 94501

How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Alameda California

Alameda CA medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alameda CA, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Alameda CA medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Alameda CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving basic support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Courses

Alameda CA CMA opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Alameda CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to trade 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 training. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Alameda CA medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received 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 take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Alameda CA woman attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Alameda CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alameda CA with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Alameda CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Alameda CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Alameda medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Alameda 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 an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small 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 convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Alameda CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Alameda CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.