How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to enter 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 appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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 decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Juneau AK, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you choose health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready several approaches about how you want to answer them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Juneau AK hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alaska law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Training
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Juneau AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Alaska junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Juneau AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alaska students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Juneau AK area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Juneau AK with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Juneau AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Alaska accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Alaska schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Juneau AK area medical providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Juneau health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small 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 possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Juneau AK Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Juneau AK.