How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Course Near Anchorage Alaska
Once 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 college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The most versatile health professional in any Alaska healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Anchorage medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Anchorage AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Anchorage AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend 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 pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Anchorage AK area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing 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 by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Anchorage AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Anchorage AK area healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Anchorage healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Anchorage AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program 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 program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anchorage AK, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Anchorage Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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 best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Anchorage Alaska.