How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Program Near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Juneau AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 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 alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Juneau AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Juneau AK area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Juneau AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few 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 several great reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Juneau healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Juneau 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 large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Juneau Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is 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 acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Juneau Alaska.