How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Juneau AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, 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 (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Alaska community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Alaska students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical 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 participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Juneau AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, 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 researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Juneau AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. First, 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 must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Juneau AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Alaska accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose 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. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Alaska colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Juneau healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Juneau AK Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online 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 ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Juneau AK.