How to Find the Right CMA Degree Program near Conway Arkansas
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Conway AR, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 also. You may want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, 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 function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Conway AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Conway AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arkansas community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive 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 component requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Conway AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arkansas students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Conway AR area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Conway AR with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Conway AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose 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. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring 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, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Conway AR area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Conway healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Conway AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Conway AR, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Conway AR Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Conway AR.