How to Pick a Medical Assistant Program in Sitka Alaska
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Sitka AK, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate 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 issues as well. You may choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Sitka AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners 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
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though Sitka AK medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Programs and Certification
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Sitka AK employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Sitka AK employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in area Alaska healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Sitka AK is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Sitka AK or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when assessing Alaska programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Sitka AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Sitka AK area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Sitka AK area schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Alaska medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Sitka AK health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the Sitka AK area to help place students in positions.
How Large 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 provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school in the Sitka AK area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Sitka AK, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant School in Sitka AK
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus 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 subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Sitka AK.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers frequently ask prospects is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the talents you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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