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Become a Medical Assistant Berkeley CA 94701

How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Berkeley California

Berkeley CA medical assistant holding 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 select a school 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 prospective students start by researching 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Berkeley CA, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you choose 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 talents you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should prepare some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some ideas and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Berkeley CA CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Berkeley CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Programs

Berkeley CA medical assistant opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required 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 (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred 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 requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals 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 potential Berkeley CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Berkeley California woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for students 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 choice for California students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Berkeley CA area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Berkeley CA with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to look at when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Berkeley CA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of California accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out 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 evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the California schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Berkeley CA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Berkeley medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer 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 graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies 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 individual instruction you will get during 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 practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Berkeley CA, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Berkeley CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing 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 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 decided to attend either an on-campus or online 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 ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Berkeley CA.