How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Rogers Arkansas
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Rogers AR, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences 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 may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Rogers AR hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Rogers 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 generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arkansas community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Rogers AR medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arkansas students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Rogers AR area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Rogers AR with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Rogers AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arkansas colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Rogers AR area medical providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Rogers healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Rogers AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Rogers AR, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Rogers AR Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Rogers AR.