How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
Why Study 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 may be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the abilities you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Fairbanks AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can 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 health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations 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 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 Training Courses
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Fairbanks AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at Alaska junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four 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 mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Fairbanks AK medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alaska students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Fairbanks AK area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Fairbanks AK with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Fairbanks AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 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 take about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alaska colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Fairbanks health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Fairbanks AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator 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 furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks AK Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized 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 plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.