How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School in Barrow Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Barrow AK, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Barrow AK hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size 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 professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While Barrow AK medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices available 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
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Barrow AK employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Barrow AK employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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 sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to go to 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 certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in regional Alaska healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Barrow AK is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Barrow AK or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing colleges. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when assessing Alaska schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Barrow AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Barrow AK area medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Barrow AK area colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many Alaska medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with local medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Barrow AK health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high 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 Barrow AK area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school in the Barrow AK area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Barrow AK, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant College in Barrow AK
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in health care 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 so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Barrow AK.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to review questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask candidates is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare some strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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