How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Benton Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession 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 approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Benton AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Benton AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 offered at Arkansas junior and community colleges together with technical 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 usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Benton AR medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arkansas students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Benton AR area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions 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 prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Benton AR with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Benton AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 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 approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arkansas colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Benton AR area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Benton healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Benton AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Benton AR, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Benton AR Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Benton AR.