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How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Near Juneau Alaska

Juneau Alaska medical assistant carrying patient chartOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care 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 undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may choose to take a look at a few 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 qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Juneau Alaska medical assistant holding door for patient using crutches

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 Training

Juneau Alaska medical assistant reading to senior man in nursing homeCompared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Juneau AK health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Juneau AK medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Juneau Alaska young female taking online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for individuals 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 attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Juneau AK area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Juneau AK with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Juneau AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Juneau AK area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Juneau health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide 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 indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction 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 face to face interaction. If practical, 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 Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select offers 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 easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Juneau

Enroll in the Right Juneau Medical Assistant Classes

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Juneau Alaska.




 

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