How to Select the Right CMA Training Program near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (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 important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" 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 available.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Fairbanks AK, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of ideas about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Fairbanks AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Alaska junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Fairbanks AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for students 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 working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Fairbanks AK area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices 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 prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Fairbanks AK with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Fairbanks 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 schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Alaska schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Fairbanks AK area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Fairbanks healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help 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 school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need 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 school, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks AK Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether 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 need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.