How to Enroll In the Best CMA Training Program near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care 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 undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start 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 job of a medical assistant can be varied 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 size or type 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 medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alaska law, some choose 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 Training
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, 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 essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Alaska community and junior colleges as well as trade 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 classes. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible 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 perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alaska students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Juneau AK area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Juneau AK with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alaska accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Alaska colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area medical providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build 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 Service Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and ask 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 healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Juneau AK, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Juneau AK Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Juneau AK.