How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Eagle River Alaska
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Eagle River AK, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Eagle River AK clinics, hospitals 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While Eagle River AK medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Eagle River AK employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 typically two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Eagle River AK employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice 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 choice for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in local Alaska healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Eagle River AK is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant program options, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Eagle River AK or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing Alaska programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Eagle River AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Eagle River AK area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Eagle River AK area schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Alaska medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Eagle River AK health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts in the Eagle River AK area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school in the Eagle River AK area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Eagle River AK, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant College in Eagle River AK
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Eagle River AK.
Why Did You Desire to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters frequently ask applicants is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must prepare a number of ideas about how you want to address them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down several ideas and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
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