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Become a Medical Assistant Berkeley CA 94701

How to Pick the Best CMA Program near Berkeley California

Berkeley CA CMA holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Berkeley CA, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many potential students start by researching 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Berkeley CA, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to choose health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to ready a number of strategies about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the abilities you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Berkeley CA CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Berkeley CA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing 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

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under California law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Programs

Berkeley CA medical assistant welcoming patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have 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 are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at California junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Berkeley CA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Berkeley California woman attending medical assistant school onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option 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 alternative for California students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Berkeley CA area medical 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 might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Berkeley CA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To begin 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, 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 Rate? Most of the California accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Berkeley CA area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish 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 Support Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Berkeley CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Berkeley CA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships 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 issues.

Choose the Right Berkeley CA Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Berkeley CA.