How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Course Near Juneau Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Juneau AK, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Duties of Medical Assistants
The most versatile health professional in any Alaska healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Juneau medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Juneau AK health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Juneau AK medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to 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 attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Juneau AK area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Juneau AK with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose 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 means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Juneau AK area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish 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 Assistance Provided? Finding that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Juneau AK, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Juneau Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire 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 selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Juneau Alaska.