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Become a Medical Assistant Berkeley CA 94701

How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Berkeley California

Berkeley CA medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Berkeley CA, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Berkeley CA, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you pick health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready a number of ideas about how you want to address them. Since there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Berkeley CA medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Berkeley CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. 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 assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Courses

Berkeley CA medical assistant greeting patientUnlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Berkeley CA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Berkeley CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Berkeley CA student attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for California students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Berkeley CA area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools 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 several additional factors that you must explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Berkeley CA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Berkeley CA area health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Berkeley healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Berkeley CA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may 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 provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Berkeley CA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Berkeley CA Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate 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.