Home >> Alaska >> Fairbanks >> Medical Assistant Schools


Become a Medical Assistant Fairbanks AK 99701

How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks AK medical assistant holding medical chartOnce 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 appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Fairbanks AK CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Fairbanks AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending 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 giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses

Fairbanks AK medical assistant opening door for patientIn contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Fairbanks AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed 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 typically two year programs provided at Alaska community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Fairbanks AK medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Fairbanks AK student attending medical assistant online classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Alaska students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Fairbanks AK area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Fairbanks AK with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Fairbanks AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program'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 school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Alaska schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Fairbanks medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Fairbanks AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can 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 prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Right Fairbanks AK Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare 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 decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.