Home >> California >> Berkeley >> Medical Assistant Classes


Become a Medical Assistant Berkeley CA 94701

How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Berkeley California

Berkeley CA medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Berkeley CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Berkeley CA CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Berkeley CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may 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
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some choose to specialize in a particular 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 Training Courses

Berkeley CA medical assistant opening door for patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Berkeley CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Berkeley California student attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Berkeley CA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Berkeley CA medical employers just will not hire 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Berkeley CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Berkeley CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, 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 means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the California colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Berkeley CA area medical providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Berkeley healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Berkeley CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Berkeley CA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Berkeley CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Berkeley CA.