How to Find the Best Medical Assistant School Near Fairbanks Alaska
Once 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 school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students start 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 location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Fairbanks AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alaska law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Fairbanks AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Fairbanks AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Fairbanks AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type 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 process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Fairbanks AK with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when evaluating schools. To help 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 selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Fairbanks 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 design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Fairbanks AK area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build 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 Provided? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Fairbanks AK area and ask 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 signifies that it has a wide network of employers 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 during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Medical Assistant Course
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning 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 get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks Alaska.