How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School near North Little Rock Arkansas
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near North Little Rock AR, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential 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 important issues also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role 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 North Little Rock AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of North Little Rock AR health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arkansas junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible North Little Rock AR medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated 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 discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in North Little Rock AR area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to North Little Rock AR with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential North 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? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Arkansas colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with North Little Rock AR area healthcare providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the North Little Rock health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the North Little Rock AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college 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 employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near North Little Rock AR, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right North Little Rock AR Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in North Little Rock AR.