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Medical assistants perform basic tasks for physicians such as taking vitals, scheduling appointments, assisting with routine examinations, and administering certain tests and injections. The requirements for this profession vary by state. In Alaska, medical assistants are required to carry certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Formal education is not mandated by the state, but completing a continuing education program will greatly increase employment opportunities. Programs are available for either a medical assistant certificate or an associate of applied sciences in medical assisting. Students in Alaska can choose from four colleges offering various medical assisting programs throughout the state.
At the Alaska Career College, a certification program is available that will prepare students for all the requirements of the national certification exam. This program is available on either a day college schedule or an evening college schedule, to meet students' needs. Carter College offers a convenient fast track medical assisting program that can be completed in just under a year. Technical skills, business skills, and front office technology training are provided on campus. This program also includes a 180-hour externship for plenty of practical applications. The medical assistant program is offered at both the Anchorage and Wasilla, Alaska campuses.
An AAS degree in medical assisting is available at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This program prepares students for both medical reception certification and dental reception certification. Training is provided in both clinical care and office skills. The University of Alaska Anchorage has a 40 credit hour program for an AAS in medical assisting as well. At this university, students can prepare for a career in medical transcription, medical office coding, or medical assisting. In addition to the AAS degree, a certification program is also available for a shorter course of study. Both clinical and administrative duties are covered in these courses.
Alaska is the highest paying state in the US for medical assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary was $39,200 as of May 2010. This is much higher than the national average of $30,170. Fairbanks, Alaska is the highest-paying metropolitan area in the country for medical assistants with an annual mean wage of $44,420. Among nonmetropolitan areas, Alaska also ranks first with the Railbait/Southwest area paying an average of $42,430 annually for this occupation. With the proper information about how to become a medical assistant in Alaska and medical assistant programs in Alaska, it's possible to have a very successful career in this field.