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How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Program Near College Alaska

College Alaska medical assistant holding patient recordsOnce you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near College AK, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean 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 important factors also. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

College Alaska CMA holding door for patient using crutches

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the College AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available 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 Programs

College Alaska medical assistant reading to senior patient in nursing homeUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many College AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally 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 alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential College AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

College Alaska young female taking online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in College AK area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to College AK with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you select 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective College AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing 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 focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with College AK area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the College health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the College AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator 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 provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near College AK, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

How to Be a CMA in College

Enroll in the Right College Medical Assistant College

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, 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 plan to earn or if you have made a decision 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 selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in College Alaska.




 

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