How to Choose an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Springdale Arkansas
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Springdale AR, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the Springdale AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some opt 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Springdale AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some 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 option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arkansas community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring 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 similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arkansas students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Springdale AR area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical 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 requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Springdale AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Springdale AR with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Springdale AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest 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 get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Arkansas schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Springdale AR area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Springdale health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Springdale AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
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 offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Springdale AR, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Springdale AR Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Springdale AR.