How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
The most versatile health professional in any Alaska healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Fairbanks medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Fairbanks AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 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 alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Fairbanks AK medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded 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 have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Fairbanks AK area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine 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 start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Fairbanks AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Fairbanks AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring 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 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. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Fairbanks healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Fairbanks AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive 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 possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will 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 emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Medical Assistant Course
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks Alaska.