How to Pick an Accredited CMA School Program near North Little Rock Arkansas
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near North Little Rock AR, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the North Little Rock AR clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may 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 Training
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of North Little Rock AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at Arkansas community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in North Little Rock AR area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential North Little Rock AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind 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 begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to North Little Rock AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective North Little Rock AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the 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 looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with North Little Rock AR area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the North Little Rock healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the North Little Rock AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during 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 convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college 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 school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near North Little Rock AR, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best North Little Rock AR Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal 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 obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in North Little Rock AR.