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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program Near College Alaska

College Alaska medical assistant holding patient chartNow that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near College AK, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish 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 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 type of credentials and training that are available.

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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

College Alaska CMA greeting patient on crutches

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the College AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available 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 Courses

College Alaska medical assistant reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many College AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 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 usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to trade 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 usually 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 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential College AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

College Alaska young female attending online medical assistant classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in College AK area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to College AK with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective College AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with College AK area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the College medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the College AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? 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 furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near College AK, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in College

Enroll in the Right College Medical Assistant College

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in College Alaska.




 

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