How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School near Anchorage Alaska
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anchorage AK, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. 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 giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alaska law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Anchorage AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Alaska community and junior 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 frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alaska students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Anchorage AK area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Anchorage AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Anchorage AK with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Anchorage AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs 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 obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alaska schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Anchorage AK area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Anchorage healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Anchorage AK Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anchorage AK.