Home >> Arkansas >> Texarkana >> Medical Assistant Courses


Become a Medical Assistant Texarkana AR 71854

How to Pick the Best CMA Training Program near Texarkana Arkansas

Texarkana AR CMA holding medical chartNow that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Texarkana AR, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Texarkana AR, it's important to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must prepare several strategies about how you would like to address them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Texarkana AR medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Texarkana AR clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can 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 health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Texarkana AR medical assistant welcoming patient on crutchesUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Texarkana AR health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arkansas community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Texarkana AR medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Texarkana Arkansas woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arkansas students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Texarkana AR area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Texarkana AR with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Texarkana AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arkansas accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Arkansas colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Texarkana AR area healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Texarkana healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Texarkana AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Texarkana AR, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Best Texarkana AR Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Texarkana AR.