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Become a Medical Assistant Anchorage AK 99501

How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage AK medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anchorage AK, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Anchorage AK, it's helpful to consider questions you may be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must organize a number of ideas about how you would like to answer them. Since there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Anchorage AK medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses 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
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking 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 qualified to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Anchorage AK medical assistant greeting patientIn contrast to most other healthcare 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 would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn 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 expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Anchorage AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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 exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Anchorage AK woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Alaska students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Anchorage AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Anchorage AK with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Anchorage AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alaska colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Anchorage AK area health care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Anchorage medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and 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 important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Anchorage AK Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. 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 critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Anchorage AK.