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Become a Medical Assistant Anchorage AK 99501

How to Find the Best CMA Degree Program near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage AK medical assistant with medical chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care 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 approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean 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 issues as well. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Anchorage AK medical assistant taking 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 Anchorage AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size 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 professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alaska law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain 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

Anchorage AK CMA welcoming patientCompared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Anchorage AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Alaska community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Anchorage AK student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alaska students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Anchorage AK area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Anchorage AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Anchorage AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Anchorage AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Alaska schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Anchorage AK area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Anchorage healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout 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 possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Anchorage AK Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anchorage AK.