With a mixture of rural and urban healthcare systems, Alaska offers a favorable job market for certified medical assistants. Alaska is the second highest paying state in the Nation, with an average CMA salary of $36,400 per year. Salary changes only slightly regionally across Alaska. The demand for certified medical assistants in Alaska is also expected to grow in over 40% by 2016, according to the U.S. Labor Bureau.
Medical assistant training can be beneficial for working in many areas of medicine in Alaska. Due to the rural nature of many villages and towns, healthcare services may be lacking and underserved. Medical assistant training is extremely valuable and may pose career opportunities to provide direct care to underserved and understaffed areas. Alternately, CMA training may allow you to work in other healthcare areas, such as public health, immunization clinics, emergency services and rural health.
There are several medical assisting schools in Alaska, as well as online learning options. When researching Alaska medical assisting schools, keep these things in mind:
· Cost. The most expensive school isn’t necessarily the best option. Be sure to interview all medical assisting programs to see what works best for your education budget.
· Accreditation. You must choose a medical assistant school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Accredited programs must follow strict educational guidelines. Graduates of an accredited program may sit for the certified medical assistant exam (CMA).
· Degree offered. You may earn either an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree or Certificate or Diploma in medical assisting.
Alaska Medical Assisting Schools:
1) Charter College
Charter College is located in Anchorage, Alaska and offers a diploma in medical assisting. This eleven month program has a strong focus on medical basics, technical and business skills to prepare the medical assistant for entry-level in any medical area. Students are required to complete a 180 hour externship at local clinics and physician’s offices, hospitals and ambulatory care facilities.
Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for the certified medical assistant exam (CMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants. Charter College estimates the cost of its medical assistant program around $30,000.
2) University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Assisting. The program can usually be completed in about 18 months. The UAF program focuses strongly on both front and back office procedures to prepare the MA for a well-rounded career.
This program is dual-phased; the first half of the program focuses on clinical education while the second focuses on front-office and administration. Graduates are eligible to sit for the CMA exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants. The University of Alaska Fairbanks estimates the cost of its medical assistant program around $40,000.
3) University of Alaska Anchorage
The University of Alaska Anchorage offers a sixty-credit Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Assisting. Program essentials include both front office and clinical education to prepare the MA to work as a clinical assistant, health insurance specialist, medical coder or front office assistant. This program requires several prerequisites to admission, including math and English; speak with an admissions representative to see if any past college credits will transfer to this program.
The UAA medical assisting program may be completed in two years. Graduates are eligible to sit for the certified medical assistant exam given through the American Association of Medical Assistants.
4) Kaplan University—Online School
Online Learning with some campus learning required.
Kaplan University offers a Diploma of Medical Assisting, which can usually be completed in one year. Most of this program may be completed online; however, classroom time and externships may be required to complete the degree. The online portion may be completed in Alaska; however, meet with an admissions representative to find out where classroom time and externships need to be completed. Kaplan has physical classrooms in Texas, North Carolina and Florida. Kaplan is fully accredited and graduates may sit for the AAMA certified medical assisting exam.
Alaska medical assisting schools may have scholarships and grants available to help you pay for your education. Be sure to ask an admissions representative about free monies that may be available, and how to apply.