How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Pine Bluff Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Pine Bluff AR, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate 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 might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Pine Bluff AR clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered 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 many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Pine Bluff AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at Arkansas junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Pine Bluff AR medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for students who might 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 to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Pine Bluff AR area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Pine Bluff AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Pine Bluff AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arkansas colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Pine Bluff AR area health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Pine Bluff health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Pine Bluff AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, 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 jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Pine Bluff AR, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might 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 emergencies.
Choose the Right Pine Bluff AR Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges 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 sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Pine Bluff AR.