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Become a Medical Assistant in Alaska

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Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

  AK CMA holding patient chartBefore you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Alaska with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college 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 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 program 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 offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Alaska employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alaska schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Alaska health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in Alaska 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 signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working 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 in Alaska, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.



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