How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Juneau Alaska
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Juneau AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alaska law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Programs
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Juneau AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Alaska junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alaska students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Juneau AK area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Juneau AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Juneau AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Juneau AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alaska colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Juneau AK area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Juneau health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Juneau AK, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, 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 essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision 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 selecting the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Juneau AK.