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Become a Medical Assistant Anchorage AK 99501

How to Pick an Accredited CMA Program near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage AK 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 Anchorage AK, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Anchorage AK CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Training

Anchorage AK CMA welcoming patientCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Anchorage AK 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 essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically 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 prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Alaska junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Anchorage AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Anchorage AK student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alaska students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Anchorage AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Anchorage AK with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Anchorage AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Alaska accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alaska colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Anchorage AK area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Anchorage health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Anchorage AK Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Anchorage AK.