How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School near Benton Arkansas
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Benton AR, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Benton AR hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may 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 submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Benton AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Arkansas community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Benton AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Benton AR area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Benton AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Benton AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn 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 college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Benton AR area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Benton healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Benton AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Benton AR, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Benton AR Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Benton AR.