Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Arkansas with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Arkansas employers will not hire 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 schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing 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 avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate 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 elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Arkansas healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Getting that first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in Arkansas and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator 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 offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Arkansas, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.