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How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska CMA holding patient recordsOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Job of Medical Assistants

Fairbanks Alaska CMA holding door for patient on crutches

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Education

Fairbanks Alaska medical assistant reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Fairbanks AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered 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 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Fairbanks AK medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Fairbanks Alaska young female taking online medical assistant classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to 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 degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Fairbanks AK area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Fairbanks AK with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Fairbanks AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Fairbanks medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Fairbanks AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Become a CMA in Fairbanks

Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Medical Assistant Classes

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision 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 best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks Alaska.




 

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