How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Fayetteville Arkansas
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fayetteville AR, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of future 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 critical factors as well. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Fayetteville AR hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving 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 possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Fayetteville AR health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arkansas junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Fayetteville AR area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, 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 obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Fayetteville AR medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Fayetteville AR with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, 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 prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out 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 assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Arkansas colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Fayetteville AR area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Fayetteville medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Fayetteville AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention 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 teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fayetteville AR, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Fayetteville AR Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch 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 information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fayetteville AR.