How to Select the Best Medical Assistant School Near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare 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 schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
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 Training
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Juneau AK health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Juneau AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Juneau AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Juneau AK with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Juneau AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Juneau healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Juneau AK area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Juneau AK, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Juneau Medical Assistant Course
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Juneau Alaska.