How to Choose an Accredited CMA Program near Springdale Arkansas
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care 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 approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Springdale AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions 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 facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a specific 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 Courses
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Springdale AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arkansas community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Springdale AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arkansas students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Springdale AR area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Springdale AR with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Springdale AR employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Arkansas colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Springdale AR area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Springdale health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Springdale AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Springdale AR, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Springdale AR Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Springdale AR.