How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School near Rogers Arkansas
Now that you have made a decision 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 provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should 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 training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Rogers AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Rogers AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 2 year programs provided at Arkansas community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Rogers AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arkansas students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Rogers AR area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Rogers AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Rogers AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school'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 school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Arkansas schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Rogers AR area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Rogers medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that initial job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Rogers AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, 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 Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Rogers AR, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Rogers AR Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper 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 need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Rogers AR.