How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Program in Nikiski Alaska
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Nikiski AK, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the Nikiski AK clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size 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 professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though Nikiski AK medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alaska law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn 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
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Nikiski AK employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical 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 related field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Nikiski AK employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in regional Alaska medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Nikiski AK is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant program options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Nikiski AK or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing Alaska programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Nikiski AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Nikiski AK area medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program’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 college’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Nikiski AK area colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Alaska medical assistant schools offer internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Nikiski AK medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers in the Nikiski AK area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Nikiski AK area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Nikiski AK, make sure 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 internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program in Nikiski AK
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before 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 discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical 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 made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Nikiski AK.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask applicants is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to organize a number of approaches about how you want to address them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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