How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Rogers Arkansas
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Rogers AR, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Rogers AR clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some choose 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Rogers AR health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arkansas community and junior colleges as well as 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 training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arkansas students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Rogers AR area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Rogers AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Rogers AR with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Rogers AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arkansas schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Rogers AR area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Rogers medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, 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 program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Rogers AR, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Rogers AR Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare 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 prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Rogers AR.