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How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training School Near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska CMA carrying patient filesNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

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The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Juneau Alaska medical assistant greeting man using crutches

If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in Juneau AK clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.

Medical Assistant Courses

Juneau Alaska CMA working with senior man in skilled nursing facilityUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Juneau AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Juneau AK medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Juneau Alaska young woman attending online medical assistant coursesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Juneau AK area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want 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 begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Juneau AK with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Juneau AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Juneau medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program 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 college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, make certain that those times are offered. You might 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 policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Become a CMA in Juneau

Enroll in the Right Juneau Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Juneau Alaska.




 

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