How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Eagle River Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Eagle River AK, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of potential students start 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Eagle River AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alaska law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Eagle River AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate 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 medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Eagle River AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Eagle River 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 training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Eagle River AK with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Eagle River AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Eagle River AK area medical care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Eagle River medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Eagle River AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates 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 personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Eagle River AK, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need 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 responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Eagle River Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Eagle River Alaska.