How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Juneau Alaska
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of future students begin by evaluating 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 very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting 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 Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Juneau AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Juneau AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Alaska junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element 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 related field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Alaska students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Juneau AK area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Juneau AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded 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 be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Juneau AK with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Juneau AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alaska schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Juneau healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential 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 available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Juneau AK Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Juneau AK.