How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Wrangell Alaska
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Wrangell AK, it’s time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many prospective students start by checking out 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Wrangell AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While Wrangell AK medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alaska law, some elect 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Wrangell AK employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma 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 healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Wrangell AK employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in regional Alaska medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Wrangell AK is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant program options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Wrangell AK or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating Alaska programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Wrangell AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Wrangell AK area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Wrangell AK area colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Alaska medical assistant programs offer internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Wrangell AK health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers in the Wrangell AK area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college in the Wrangell AK area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Wrangell AK, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Best Medical Assistant College in Wrangell AK
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re goal 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 need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. 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, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Wrangell AK.
Why Did You Want to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask prospects is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare several strategies about how you want to answer them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
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