How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Course Near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Juneau AK clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can 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 submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alaska law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Juneau AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Juneau AK medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Juneau AK area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching 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 nearest 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 need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn 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 school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Juneau AK area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Juneau medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Juneau 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 healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention 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 teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Juneau Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Juneau Alaska.