How to Pick the Best CMA Course near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Fairbanks AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Fairbanks AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Alaska community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alaska students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Fairbanks AK area medical care 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 ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Fairbanks AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating 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 from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Fairbanks AK with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure 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 approved 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally 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 college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alaska accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Alaska schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Fairbanks AK area healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Fairbanks health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive 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 higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings 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 have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks AK Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper 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 life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select 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 type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure 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 fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.