How to Select the Best Medical Assistant School near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Fairbanks AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices available 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
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Fairbanks AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Alaska community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Fairbanks AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among 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). To qualify to take 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, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alaska students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Fairbanks AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to 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 start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Fairbanks AK with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 acknowledged agencies 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Fairbanks AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Alaska colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Fairbanks medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Fairbanks AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks AK Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.