How to Enroll In the Right CMA Training School near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Fairbanks AK, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of approaches about how you would like to address them. Given that there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Fairbanks AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alaska law, some opt 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Fairbanks AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Alaska community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element requiring 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Fairbanks AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alaska students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Fairbanks AK area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Fairbanks AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, 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 accepted 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally 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 college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Alaska schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Fairbanks health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing 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 students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to see 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 school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might 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 Fairbanks AK Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.