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Become a Medical Assistant Berkeley CA 94701

How to Find the Right CMA Training Program near Berkeley California

Berkeley CA medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Berkeley CA, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, 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 function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Berkeley CA, it's advantageous to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize several ideas about how you would like to address them. Given that there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Berkeley CA CMA taking vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Berkeley CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

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

While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under California law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available 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

Berkeley CA CMA greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other healthcare 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 choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Berkeley CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Berkeley CA student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Berkeley CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Berkeley CA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Berkeley CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the California schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Berkeley CA area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Berkeley healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help 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 school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator 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 provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, 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 get.

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 enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Berkeley CA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Berkeley CA Medical Assistant Program

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Berkeley CA.