How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Conway 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 Conway AR, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Conway AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Training Courses
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Conway AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arkansas community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Conway AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for those who may not have 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 earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Conway AR area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Conway AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Conway AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is 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 eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Conway AR area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Conway health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Conway 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 employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Conway AR, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Conway AR Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide 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 must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Conway AR.