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Become a Medical Assistant Anchorage AK 99501

How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage AK CMA holding medical chartNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anchorage AK, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Anchorage AK, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you should prepare some approaches about how you want to answer them. Since there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Anchorage AK medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Anchorage AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alaska law, some choose 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Anchorage AK CMA opening door for patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other healthcare 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 program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Alaska junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment 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 received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Anchorage Alaska woman attending medical assistant program onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Alaska students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Anchorage AK area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Anchorage AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Anchorage AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting 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 one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get 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 decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Alaska colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.

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

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out 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 Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Anchorage AK.