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How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School Near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage Alaska CMA carrying patient recordsNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anchorage AK, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes 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 important issues as well. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to 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 credentials and training that are available.

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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Anchorage Alaska CMA greeting patient using crutches

If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in Anchorage AK clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.

Medical Assistant Courses

Anchorage Alaska medical assistant working with senior patient in skilled nursing facilityCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Anchorage AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component 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.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Anchorage AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Anchorage Alaska young woman attending online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Anchorage AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Anchorage AK with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Anchorage AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Anchorage AK area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Anchorage health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness 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 working full-time, it's essential that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Become a Medical Assistant in Anchorage

Enroll in the Right Anchorage Medical Assistant Classes

It's imperative 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 objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Anchorage Alaska.




 

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