How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Program near Jonesboro Arkansas
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jonesboro AR, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. 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 before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Jonesboro AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can 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 filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Education
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Jonesboro AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arkansas students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Jonesboro AR area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Jonesboro AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Jonesboro AR with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine 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 thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Jonesboro AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arkansas colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Jonesboro AR area health care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Jonesboro health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Jonesboro AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Jonesboro 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 also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Jonesboro AR Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Jonesboro AR.