How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Little Rock Arkansas
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Little Rock AR, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Little Rock AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Little Rock AR health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Arkansas students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Little Rock AR area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Little Rock AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit 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 by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Little Rock AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting 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 ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Arkansas colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Little Rock AR area medical providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Little Rock health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Little Rock AR area and find out 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 healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night 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 college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Little Rock AR Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Little Rock AR.