How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anchorage AK, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most prospective students start 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, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Anchorage AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with technical 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 courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Anchorage AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can 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 Anchorage AK area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Anchorage AK with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Anchorage AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Anchorage AK area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Anchorage medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Anchorage Medical Assistant College
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right 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 discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anchorage Alaska.