How to Select the Right CMA Degree Program near Bentonville Arkansas
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bentonville AR, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to 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 a few 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Bentonville AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities 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. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Bentonville AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Arkansas community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Bentonville AR medical employers just will not hire 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) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended 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, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Bentonville AR area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Bentonville AR with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Bentonville AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Bentonville AR area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Bentonville healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing 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 students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Bentonville AR, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Bentonville AR Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bentonville AR.