Home >> Arkansas >> Texarkana >> Medical Assistant Programs


Become a Medical Assistant Texarkana AR 71854

How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Texarkana Arkansas

Texarkana AR medical assistant holding patient chartNow that you have decided to enter 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 furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Texarkana AR, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you should prepare a number of ideas about how you want to answer them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Texarkana AR CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Texarkana AR hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arkansas law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Programs

Texarkana AR medical assistant opening door for patientIn contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Texarkana AR health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, 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 option is to attain 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 extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Texarkana AR medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Texarkana Arkansas woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. 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 an especially good option for Arkansas students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Texarkana AR area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Texarkana AR with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Texarkana AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Arkansas accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating 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 just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Arkansas schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Texarkana AR area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop 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 Service Offered? Getting that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Texarkana AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may 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 provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Texarkana AR, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Texarkana AR Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget 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 rewarding career as a medical assistant in Texarkana AR.