How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Jonesboro Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jonesboro AR, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges 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 offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Jonesboro AR hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Jonesboro AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Jonesboro AR medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arkansas students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical 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 going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide 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 procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Jonesboro AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Jonesboro AR employers will not employ 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 schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, 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, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arkansas colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Jonesboro AR area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Jonesboro health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Jonesboro AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Jonesboro AR, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Jonesboro AR Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care 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 before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to 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.