How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School Near Anchorage Alaska
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anchorage AK, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each 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 offered.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Anchorage AK medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.
Medical Assistant Education
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Anchorage AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational 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 practical element requiring 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Anchorage AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Anchorage AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might 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.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Anchorage AK with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered 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 program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Anchorage AK area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Anchorage health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout 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 possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Anchorage AK, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Anchorage Medical Assistant Classes
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan 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 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 selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anchorage Alaska.