How to Select the Right CMA Program near Benton Arkansas
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Benton AR, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Benton AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Programs
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Benton AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arkansas junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arkansas students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often 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 mode of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Benton AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Benton AR with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Benton AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Benton AR area medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Benton healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Benton AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Benton AR, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Benton AR Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Benton AR.