How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Anchorage Alaska
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Anchorage AK, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean 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 as well. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included 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 training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While Anchorage AK medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Training and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Anchorage AK employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Anchorage AK employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded 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 be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous 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 degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in local Alaska health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Anchorage AK is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Anchorage AK or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when evaluating Alaska schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Anchorage AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Anchorage AK area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out 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 evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Anchorage AK area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Alaska medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Anchorage AK medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little 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 college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts in the Anchorage AK area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal 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 teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Anchorage AK area to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s imperative that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Anchorage AK, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant School in Anchorage AK
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Anchorage AK.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to review questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask prospects is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you should ready a number of approaches about how you want to address them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the strengths you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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