How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairbanks AK, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Role of Medical Assistants
Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Alaska healthcare settings, concentrated in Fairbanks outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Fairbanks AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many 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 perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Fairbanks AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best choice 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 Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Fairbanks AK with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, 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 design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Fairbanks AK area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Fairbanks healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Fairbanks AK area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, 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 Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Fairbanks Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing 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, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks Alaska.