How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Little Rock Arkansas
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Little Rock AR, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to 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 available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Little Rock AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Little Rock AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. 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 prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Little Rock AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of 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). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arkansas students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Little Rock AR area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Little Rock AR with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Little Rock AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at 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 targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Little Rock AR area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Little Rock healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Little Rock AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Little Rock AR, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Little Rock AR Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many 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 sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Little Rock AR.