How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School Near College Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near College AK, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the College AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alaska law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many College AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential College AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in College AK area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide 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 discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to College AK with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend 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 College AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with College AK area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the College healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the College AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near College AK, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right College Medical Assistant Course
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in College Alaska.