How to Choose the Right CMA School near Jonesboro Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jonesboro AR, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Jonesboro AR clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some choose 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 Programs
In contrast to 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 would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some 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 option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arkansas junior and community colleges together with 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 element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Jonesboro AR area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Jonesboro AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Jonesboro AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Jonesboro AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Jonesboro AR area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Jonesboro health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Jonesboro AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator 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 provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and 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 college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Jonesboro AR, confirm 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 any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Jonesboro AR Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision 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 picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Jonesboro AR.