How to Enroll In the Right CMA Training School near Jonesboro Arkansas
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jonesboro AR, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the Jonesboro AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Jonesboro AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 typically 2 year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Jonesboro AR medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Jonesboro AR area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Jonesboro AR with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered 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 college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arkansas schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Jonesboro AR area medical providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Jonesboro healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Jonesboro AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Jonesboro AR, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Jonesboro AR Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Jonesboro AR.