How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Training Program near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Juneau AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general 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 obtain 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
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Juneau AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Alaska junior and community 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 courses. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Juneau AK medical employers just 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) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alaska students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Juneau AK area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Juneau AK with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the college you choose 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 plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Alaska colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Juneau AK area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Juneau healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school 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 school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Juneau AK, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Juneau AK Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Juneau AK.