How to Pick the Best CMA Training Program near Springdale Arkansas
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Springdale 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 ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist 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 talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Springdale AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. 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 medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain 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
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Springdale AR health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arkansas junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Arkansas students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Springdale AR area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Springdale AR medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Springdale AR with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Springdale AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however 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 complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arkansas schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Springdale AR area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Springdale healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Springdale AR area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication 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 offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Springdale AR, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Springdale AR Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Springdale AR.