How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Course Near Juneau Alaska
Once 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 select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting 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 Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Juneau AK hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run 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 medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn 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 are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Juneau AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Juneau AK area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might 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.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Juneau AK with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. 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 contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Juneau AK area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build 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 Help Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a difficult undertaking 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 program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical 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 may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Juneau Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice 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 schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Juneau Alaska.