How to Find the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Fayetteville Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of 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 approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Fayetteville AR clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities 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 facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Fayetteville AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arkansas junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Fayetteville AR medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically 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 education may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must 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 decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Fayetteville AR with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To start with, 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Fayetteville AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, 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 fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arkansas colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Fayetteville AR area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Fayetteville healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Fayetteville AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fayetteville AR, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Fayetteville AR Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fayetteville AR.