Medical Assistant Training and Certification in Arkansas
The website of the Arkansas Medical Assistants Association includes a graphic with 26 words to describe medical assistants. Among them are multifaceted, caring, qualified, and necessary!
Medical assistants carry out basic clinical and administrative tasks in clinics and medical offices. Some perform both types of tasks on a regular basis. Others have more specialized roles.
Arkansas physicians are authorized by law to delegate routine tasks to unlicensed medical assistants. They are responsible for ensuring that the medical assistants they delegate to have the requisite training.
Certification is available through third party organizations and is frequently mandated by employers. There are multiple accredited certifying organizations. Employers may state a preference. Some certifying bodies have experience pathways. The quickest path to certification eligibility is typically formal education.
Medical Assistant Certifications
Medical assistants become certified by meeting eligibility requirements and passing an examination. Certifying agencies set varying requirements for recertification/ continuing competency.
The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) are among those most frequently referenced by employees.
The designation CMA (AAMA) indicates certification as a Certified Medical Assistant through the American Association of Medical Assistants. CMA (AAMA) certification eligibility had until recently been extended only to individuals who completed programs that were accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau for Health Education Schools (ABHES). Under a new pilot program, individuals can achieve eligibility by completing qualifying programs through accredited schools.
The RMA designation is awarded to candidates who are certified as medical assistants by American Medical Technologists. Qualifying educational programs are housed in accredited institutions and are the equivalent of at least 720 clock hours; they include at least 160 hours of internship. Formal training programs completed through the US Armed Forces are also qualifying. Candidates can qualify through experience, but it will take at least five years. (The exception is current instructors who might qualify with three yearsof clinical experience, combined with teaching experience greater than one year.)
The National Commission of Certifying Agencies has accredited other certifying agencies. Some have a shorter experience pathway. However, many employers seek individuals who already have experience and/ or education. Some state a preference for those with accredited education.
Medical Assistant Educational Foundations
Medical assisting programs are available at the certificate or associate’s level. Some employers do prefer the associate’s. One medical center advertising in Arkansas in late 2019, for example, stated a preference for candidates who had either five years of experience or degrees at the associate’s level.
Best Medical Assistant Programs in Arkansas
The Arkansas Tech University program is CAAHEP-accredited — currently the only program in the state to hold this distinction. The program leads to an Associate of Applied Science. Admission is selective. Students can take some coursework while holding Associate of General Studies status. Arkansas Tech has a 93.48% five-year placement rate; this reflects data available in 2019.
Eastern College of Health Vocations holds institutional ABHES accreditation. The school states that graduates will test through the National Association of Health Professionals.
Blue Cliff College holds institutional accreditation through the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). While it is not specific to medical assisting or healthcare, the accreditation confers certain advantages, including financial aid eligibility as well as accountability.
Top Employers in Arkansas
ArCARE is among the major employers. It is a Federally Qualified Health Center with many locations around Arkansas (https://www.arcare.net/find-a-location/).
Medical assistants provide outpatient services for hospitals like Saline Memorial, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. They are employed by major health systems like Baptist Health, Mercy Health, and CHI St. Vincent. Medical assistants are utilized in various specialty clinics like diabetes and endocrinology.
Medical assistants are also utilized in medical offices throughout the state. The following were among those advertising in 2019:
- Pain Treatment Centers of America
- Washburn Foot & Ankle Center
- Pediatric Associates of West Memphis
- Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas
- Highlands Oncology Clinic
- GoHealth Urgent Care
- VisionCare Arkansas
- Northwest Physicians, LLC
Some employers offer benefits that can help people advance their careers as well as enjoy medical benefits themselves. Jefferson Regional Medical Center is among the employers that offer tuition reimbursement.
Arkansas Medical Assistant Salary Information
Arkansas medical assistants averaged $30,320 in 2018 for a full-time 52-week schedule. Those at the 10th percentile earned $21,860 while those at the 90th percentile earned $39,180. All metropolitan areas within the state reported a wide range of wages. The Little Rock metropolitan area had a mean more than a thousand dollars above the state average, but those at the 10th percentile made just $23,880; those at the 90th percent made $40,480.
The Arkansas medical assistant location quotient is below the national average. The Little Rock and Hot Springs metropolitan areas have a job concentration right around the national average.
The Arkansas Society of Medical Assistants is the state professional association (http://www.arsma.org).
The American Medical Assistants Association has provided links to Arkansas scope of practice documents (https://www.aama-ntl.org/employers/state-scope-of-practice-laws).
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