How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short 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 offered.
Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Fairbanks AK, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready several approaches about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of 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 essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals 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 offered at Alaska community and junior colleges in addition to 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 training. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Fairbanks AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the 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 working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Fairbanks AK area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine 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 considerations that you must explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one 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 often not offered 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 Passage Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alaska schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Fairbanks AK area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help 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 very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help 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 college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment 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 important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit 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 school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks AK Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if 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 get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.