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Become a Medical Assistant Fayetteville AR 72701

How to Pick an Accredited CMA Program near Fayetteville Arkansas

Fayetteville AR CMA with patient chartNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fayetteville AR, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Fayetteville AR, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not only the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to ready several approaches about how you would like to answer them. Since there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Fayetteville AR medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Fayetteville AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options available 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

Fayetteville AR medical assistant opening door for patient on crutchesCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have 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 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Fayetteville AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Fayetteville Arkansas woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arkansas students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Fayetteville AR area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best option for you. With 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

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Fayetteville AR with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Fayetteville AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Arkansas schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Fayetteville AR area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Fayetteville healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Fayetteville AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout 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 convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fayetteville AR, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Fayetteville AR Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fayetteville AR.