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Become a Medical Assistant Castro Valley CA 94546

How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Castro Valley California

Castro Valley CA CMA holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Castro Valley CA, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential students start by evaluating 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might want 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 college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Castro Valley CA, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare several approaches about how you would like to address them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Castro Valley CA CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Castro Valley CA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size 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 physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • 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 choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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

Castro Valley CA medical assistant greeting patientCompared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Castro Valley CA health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available 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 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 typically 2 year programs provided at California junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Castro Valley CA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Castro Valley California student attending medical assistant online programThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended 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, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Castro Valley CA area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Castro Valley CA with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Castro Valley 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 schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the California schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Castro Valley CA area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Castro Valley healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Castro Valley CA area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Castro Valley CA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Castro Valley CA Medical Assistant Program

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate 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 lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 picking the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Castro Valley CA.