How to Find the Best CMA Course near Anchorage Alaska
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anchorage AK, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alaska law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Anchorage AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alaska junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education 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 applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Anchorage AK medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alaska students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Anchorage AK area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Anchorage AK with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Anchorage AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Alaska colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Anchorage AK area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Anchorage health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you select offers 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 offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Anchorage AK Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper 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 lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anchorage AK.