How to Select a Medical Assistant School in Mountain Village Alaska
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Mountain Village AK, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean 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 factors as well. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Mountain Village AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Mountain Village AK medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alaska law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Mountain Village AK employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 two year programs offered 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 courses. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Mountain Village AK employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative 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 to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in local Alaska healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Mountain Village AK is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program options, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Mountain Village AK or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating Alaska programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Mountain Village AK employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Mountain Village AK area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is 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 avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Mountain Village AK area colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of Alaska medical assistant schools offer internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Mountain Village AK health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts in the Mountain Village AK area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college in the Mountain Village AK area to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Mountain Village AK, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant School in Mountain Village AK
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re objective 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 need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Mountain Village AK.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask applicants is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you should prepare some strategies about how you would like to address them. Given that there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
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