How to Choose a Medical Assistant School near Paragould Arkansas
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Paragould AR, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Paragould AR clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arkansas law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Training
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Paragould AR health care employers choose 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 shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma 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 healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Paragould AR area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs 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 job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Paragould AR medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Paragould AR with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Paragould AR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Paragould AR area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Paragould health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Paragould AR area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Paragould AR, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Paragould Arkansas?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Paragould AR area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Paragould is the county seat of Greene County, and the 19th-largest city in Arkansas, in the United States. The city is located in northeastern Arkansas on the eastern edge of Crowley's Ridge, a geologic anomaly contained within the Arkansas delta.
Paragould is the principal city of the Paragould, Arkansas Micropolitan Statistical Area and is also a part of the Jonesboro-Paragould Combined Statistical Area. The Paragould micropolitan area's population was 42,090 at the 2010 census, and the Jonesboro-Paragould Combined Statistical Area's population was 163,116.
The city's name is a blend combining the last names of competing railroad magnates J. W. Paramore and Jay Gould. Paramore's Texas & St. Louis Railway (later the Cotton Belt) and Gould's St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway (later the Missouri Pacific) intersected here in 1882. A group of citizens chose the name, and it is believed to be the only city in the world with this name. Gould objected to his name's being second and refused to list the new town on his schedules.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Paragould AR
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in National Registered Certified Medical Assistant. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Paragould AR.
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