How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Fayetteville Arkansas
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fayetteville AR, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start 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 Duties of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Fayetteville AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may 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 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 Programs
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Fayetteville AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, 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 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 expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Fayetteville AR medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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 have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arkansas students who continue to work 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 expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Fayetteville AR area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Fayetteville AR with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Fayetteville AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally 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, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arkansas colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Fayetteville AR area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Fayetteville healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Finding that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Fayetteville AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal 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 face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fayetteville 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 also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Fayetteville AR Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin 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 right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fayetteville AR.