How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Springdale Arkansas
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Springdale AR, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Springdale AR hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 Programs
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Springdale AR health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arkansas junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Springdale AR medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arkansas students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Springdale AR area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Springdale AR with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Springdale AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate 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 decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arkansas schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Springdale AR area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Springdale health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Springdale AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Springdale AR, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Springdale AR Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Springdale AR.