How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program near Benton Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Benton AR, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to take a look at 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 finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Benton AR clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Benton AR health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arkansas community and junior colleges in addition to 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 training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Benton AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Benton AR area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Benton AR with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). 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 often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Benton AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arkansas colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Benton AR area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Benton healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Benton AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides 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 offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Benton AR Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Benton AR.