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How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska CMA holding patient filesNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, 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 talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

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The Job of a Medical Assistant

Juneau Alaska medical assistant holding door for man on crutches

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 Juneau 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 Training

Juneau Alaska CMA reading to senior man in assisted living facilityUnlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Juneau AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Juneau AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Juneau Alaska young female attending online medical assistant trainingThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Juneau AK area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Juneau AK with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, 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 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Juneau health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during 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 sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to 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 easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

How to Be a Certified Medical Assistant in Juneau

Enroll in the Right Juneau Medical Assistant Course

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to 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 covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 made a decision 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 picking the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Juneau Alaska.




 

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