How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Juneau Alaska
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Juneau AK, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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 training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Juneau AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Juneau AK medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alaska law, some prefer to specialize in a specific 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 and Certification
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Juneau AK employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Juneau AK employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered 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 thirty 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.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in regional Alaska health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Juneau AK is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Juneau AK or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when evaluating Alaska schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure 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 Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed 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 finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Juneau AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Juneau AK area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously 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 ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain 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 obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Juneau AK area schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of Alaska medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Juneau AK health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out 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 health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Juneau AK area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school in the Juneau AK area to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it’s important that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Juneau AK, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant Course in Juneau AK
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in 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 acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Juneau AK.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask applicants is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you must organize some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the best choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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