How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School Near Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike many other medical professionals, 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 program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Fairbanks AK medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty 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 offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Fairbanks AK area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Fairbanks AK with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 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 obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Fairbanks AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Fairbanks AK area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Fairbanks medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Fairbanks 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Medical Assistant Course
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks Alaska.