How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Little Rock Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care 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 approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges 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 training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Little Rock AR hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Little Rock AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain 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 certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical 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, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Little Rock AR medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for students who may 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 pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Little Rock AR area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as 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 restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Little Rock AR with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Little Rock AR employers will not hire 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 colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, 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 methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs 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 obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Arkansas colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Little Rock AR area healthcare providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Little Rock healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Little Rock AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention 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 one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Little Rock AR, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Little Rock AR Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate 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 life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays 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 a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Little Rock AR.