How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training in Palmer Alaska
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Palmer AK, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Palmer AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While Palmer AK medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alaska law, some prefer to specialize in a particular 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 Programs and Certification
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Palmer AK employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Palmer AK employers simply will not employ 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) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend 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 certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in regional Alaska healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Palmer AK is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Palmer AK or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when researching Alaska schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Palmer AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Palmer AK area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Palmer AK area colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Alaska medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Palmer AK healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that very first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in the Palmer AK area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? 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 likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Palmer AK area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Palmer AK, confirm that those times are available. You might 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 might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training in Palmer AK
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in health 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 selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Palmer AK.
Why Did You Want to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to review questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask candidates is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare several strategies about how you want to respond to them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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