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Become a Medical Assistant Alameda CA 94501

How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Program near Alameda California

Alameda CA medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alameda CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.

Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Alameda CA, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Alameda CA CMA taking vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Alameda CA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Alameda CA CMA welcoming patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Alameda CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Alameda CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among 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). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Alameda CA student attending medical assistant online programThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for California students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed 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 receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alameda CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Alameda CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools 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 colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the California colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Alameda CA area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical 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 first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Alameda CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to observe 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 school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alameda CA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Alameda CA Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alameda CA.