How to Enroll In the Best CMA Training Program near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Juneau AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain 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
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have 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 have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Alaska community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Juneau AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alaska students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical 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 going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to 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 start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Juneau AK with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, 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 contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Alaska colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build 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 Offered? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Juneau AK Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to 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.