How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean 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 research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask each 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 type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alaska law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Fairbanks AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route 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 six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alaska junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational 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 practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Fairbanks AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for those 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 option for Alaska students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Fairbanks AK area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Fairbanks AK with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Fairbanks AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask 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. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Alaska schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Fairbanks AK area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can 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 Assistance Offered? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify 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 students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks AK Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate 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 obtain 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 individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain 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 examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.