How to Find the Right CMA Degree Program near Bentonville Arkansas
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bentonville AR, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Bentonville AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Bentonville 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 generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Arkansas community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied 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 requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Bentonville AR medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arkansas students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Bentonville AR area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Bentonville 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 issues that you should explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Bentonville AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program'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 Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arkansas colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Bentonville AR area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Bentonville healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that very first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Bentonville 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to witness 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 to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Bentonville AR, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Bentonville AR Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to 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 addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Bentonville AR.