Home >> Arkansas >> Hot Springs National Park >> Medical Assistant Degrees


Become a Medical Assistant Hot Springs National Park AR 71901

How to Pick the Right CMA School Program near Hot Springs National Park Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park AR CMA holding patient chartNow that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Hot Springs National Park AR, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

Why Train to Become a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Hot Springs National Park AR, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some approaches about how you want to answer them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Hot Springs National Park AR medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Hot Springs National Park AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training

Hot Springs National Park AR medical assistant opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Hot Springs National Park AR health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at Arkansas community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Hot Springs National Park AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Hot Springs National Park AR student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arkansas students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Hot Springs National Park AR area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Hot Springs National Park AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Hot Springs National Park AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arkansas colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Hot Springs National Park AR area medical providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Hot Springs National Park health care 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 can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Hot Springs National Park 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 a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hot Springs National Park AR, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Hot Springs National Park AR Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Hot Springs National Park AR.