How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Program near Jonesboro Arkansas
Now that 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 provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate 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 issues also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Jonesboro AR clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Education
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Jonesboro AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Jonesboro AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty 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 Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Arkansas students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Jonesboro AR area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Jonesboro AR with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one 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 last, as previously mentioned, many potential Jonesboro AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Jonesboro AR area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Jonesboro health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on 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 Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Jonesboro AR, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Jonesboro AR Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially 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 made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Jonesboro AR.