How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter 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 ultimately enroll in the right one? Many future students start by researching 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, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (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 relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Anchorage AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare 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 in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Anchorage AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Anchorage AK area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like 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 evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Anchorage AK with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective 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 prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Anchorage AK area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist 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 Assistance Provided? Finding that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Anchorage Medical Assistant Course
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon 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, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anchorage Alaska.