How to Select a Medical Assistant School in Ketchikan Alaska
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Ketchikan AK, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 critical issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Ketchikan AK hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending 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 practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though Ketchikan AK medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alaska law, some prefer 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 Courses and Certification
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Ketchikan AK employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational 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 often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Ketchikan AK employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in regional Alaska medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Ketchikan AK is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant program options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Ketchikan AK or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing colleges. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when researching Alaska programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Ketchikan 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 Ketchikan AK area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Ketchikan AK area colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Alaska medical assistant programs offer internship programs with local health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Ketchikan AK medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the Ketchikan AK area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college in the Ketchikan AK area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Ketchikan AK, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant School in Ketchikan AK
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare 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 on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Ketchikan AK.
Why Did You Want to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that interviewers typically ask applicants is "What made you pick medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should organize several ideas about how you want to answer them. Given that there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the abilities you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
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