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Become a Medical Assistant Alameda CA 94501

How to Find the Best CMA Program near Alameda California

Alameda CA CMA with medical chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of 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 proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Alameda CA, it's helpful to consider questions you may be asked. One of the things that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down several ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Alameda CA CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Alameda CA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training

Alameda CA CMA welcoming patient on crutchesUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Alameda CA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Alameda CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Alameda CA student attending medical assistant school onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for California students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Alameda CA area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alameda CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Alameda CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Alameda CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Alameda health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Alameda CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can 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 offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alameda CA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Alameda CA Medical Assistant Program

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.