How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School Program Near Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying 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 appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students start by researching 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (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 schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Fairbanks AK medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, 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 essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Fairbanks AK medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Fairbanks AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Fairbanks AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school 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 intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Fairbanks AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Fairbanks health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing 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 indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Medical Assistant School
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks Alaska.