Medical Assistant Programs in Alaska
Medical assistants work under supervision of medical professionals to perform a range of patient care and administrative duties. Patient care duties can include everything from taking a person’s blood pressure and weight to doing blood draws and running lab tests. Because of Alaska’s diverse rural population, and because health services are sometimes provided in hubs, working as a medical support person in this environment can be a unique and exciting experience.
Regulations are similar to those in the contiguous states. In Alaska, though, unlike many other states, registered nurses are not allowed to delegate patient care duties to a medical assistant; this is considered to be the scope of a medical professional.
How does one become a medical assistant in Alaska? A formal training program is often the best way to be competitive for jobs in the state, however on the job training is also an option.
Medical Assistant Certification in Alaska
Health Careers in Alaska, managed by the Department of Rural Health, maintains a list of Alaska schools that have medical assisting programs. Some programs use Blackboard, an online course delivery system. There are some options that are not on the list — these include nationally accredited online programs that students in Alaska or the contiguous states may choose to enroll in. An online program will supervise a student in an actual healthcare setting, often near their home; this is, of course, a necessary part of a clinical program. However, other class work can often be completed at a distance, which can be handy for a student in rural Alaska. The following topics are often covered: medical terminology, medical law, psychology, administrative and clinical procedures, and communications.
A prospective student will want to check with the schools they are considering to make sure that they have been accredited by an acceptable agency and that graduates are allowed to sit for board exams with AAMA or AMT. [Learn more about certifications for medical assistants.]Before clinicals, students will likely be asked to take a health exam and also become CPR certified. This is important for public safety — and for the worker’s own safety as well.
Alaska Medical Assistant Resources
If you are currently attending an Alaska school that is accredited by CAAHEP, and know you have a lot to contribute to the profession, you may be eligible to apply for a scholarship through the Alaska Medical Assistants Society, or AMAS. Scholarships include the Alaska State Scholarship and the Anchorage Local Scholarship.
Medical Assistant Salary and Job outlook in Alaska
State and local chapters can also be a career resource. Some Alaska CMAs rely on the annual seminar of the Alaska Medical Assistant Society to earn CEUs; others rely on local events. A state representative notes that Alaska now has three chapters, serving Anchorage, Mat-Su and the Interior.
Ultimately, prospects look good for qualified job candidates. The Labor Bureau predicted that Alaska’s medical assistant industry would see 42% growth between 2006 and 2016, going from 800 total positions to 1,130.
Alaska’s medical assistants enjoy an average salary of $36,400 a year. This is the second highest in the nation. There are only minor differences in salary between geographic regions. The Labor Bureau reports the following regional averages (current as of 2009):
Railbelt region $36,960
Where are Medical Assistants in AK Working?
Among Alaska’s major health employers are native health corporations like Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Bristol Bay Native Association. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation is one of the largest employers in the state — 10th largest according to 2003 data. A recent job search through YKHC turned up one position in Bethel that asked for a person with a year of healthcare experience and certification as either a medical assistant or nursing assistant, (Nursing assistant, it should be noted, is generally considered a lower designation; training as an MA often exceeds this.) The position offers a generous benefits package including health coverage, disability insurance, paid holidays, and access to an employee wellness center. This employer gives preference in hiring to native peoples as per the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
UAF Community and Technical College:
Programs Offered: Medical Assistant
Campus Location and Contact Information: UAF Community and Technical College – 604 Barnette St, Tanana Valley Campus, Fairbanks , AK – 99701-4526, PH: 907-474-7112
University of Alaska-Anchorage:
Programs Offered: Medical Assistant
Campus Location and Contact Information: University of Alaska-Anchorage – Building AHS Room 166, 3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage , AK -, 99508-4630, PH: 907-786-6932