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How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Fairbanks Alaska

Fairbanks Alaska CMA holding patient recordsNow that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on 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 assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit 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 medical assistant greeting patient using crutches

So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Fairbanks AK physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.

Medical Assistant Education

Fairbanks Alaska CMA working with senior patient in nursing homeIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Fairbanks AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Fairbanks AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Fairbanks Alaska young woman taking online medical assistant trainingThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Fairbanks AK area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Fairbanks AK with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, 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 School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out 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 obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select 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 opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Fairbanks healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need 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 more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

How to Be a Medical Assistant in Fairbanks

Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Medical Assistant Course

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime 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 upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks Alaska.




 

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