How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Program in Fairbanks Alaska
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Fairbanks AK, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though Fairbanks AK medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alaska law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Fairbanks AK employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Fairbanks AK employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option 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 schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in regional Alaska health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant program options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching colleges. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating Alaska programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by one of these agencies, 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 frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Fairbanks AK employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Fairbanks AK area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program targeting 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 just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Fairbanks AK area schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Alaska medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Fairbanks AK healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts in the Fairbanks AK area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college in the Fairbanks AK area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Fairbanks AK, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program in Fairbanks AK
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fairbanks AK.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to consider questions you could be asked. One of the things that hiring managers typically ask applicants is "What made you choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the private reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should organize a number of ideas about how you would like to address them. Since there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
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