To know which schools offer the best certified MA programs in Arkansas, you’ve to focus on the institutes accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES. Search for the top MA programs in your zip code using this widget.
The state of Arkansas would see a 31% anticipated rise in the demand for medical assistants in the coming years. Though the state does not make formal training necessary, most workplaces prefer candidates with formal training as it displays their commitment to the job and proficiency in it. Having proper training also makes it easier for students to qualify for national certification or licensing examinations, making their chances of employability better.
In Arkansas, most MA students can procure a diploma or an associate in applied sciences in medical assisting. The associate degree program is between 2 to 4 years, and the diploma can be completed in less than a year. Other universities also offer certificate courses for medical assisting, which can be completed within a year.
Like the duration differs on the nature of the program the school offers, the cost of programs see a similar difference. In community college, medical assistant diplomas can be procured for $3,000-$8,000, and in private schools, they can be procured for $14,000-$25,000. These are tuition fees for resident students. For non-resident students, the fees are considerably higher, and international students have to apply within a different tuition fee bracket, preferably with accommodation on campus locations, for most programs.
All schools encourage students to apply for grants, financial aids, and scholarships in an effort to make things easier for them financially.
Medical assisting is one of the professions that is fast gaining pace in the real world, and it is no doubt that more and more schools are offering this program to its students. Having formal training only aids medical assistants in gaining the skills they later require. However, picking a course on a whim might be a bad idea, which has consequences later. While selecting a course, one has to be mindful of a few elements.
The college you’re opting for must be accredited. It is only the certified courses that give you eligibility to take medical assisting licensure examinations. Moreover, good lab facilities, advanced infrastructure, and time taken to complete the course, along with tuition fees, must be considered and compared to arrive at a decision.
Below is a list of the 6 best medical assistant schools in Arkansas for 2020:
Known for offering professional and technical courses to its students, Cossatot Community College of University of Arkansas provides a degree program to its medical assistants. First, aspirants must complete the medical transcription course and procure a certificate of proficiency. This course offers 15 total credits and is essential for enrolling in the technical certificate course of medical assisting.
This course offers 39 total credits, and there is a special application process laid out for admission. Students are required to be a part of the full-time or part-time cohort group, as it must encourage them to complete the program. Students enrolled in the medical assisting course are required to procure a minimum of 76% in all MED coursework, and if they fail to do so, they would be required to retake the course to attain graduation. The program ends with a mandatory Co-Op Internship, which gives students the practical hands-on information and technicalities for the job.
Moreover, the college program has stellar and experienced faculty, which encourages numerous students to apply for the course here. They also offer associate degree transfer programs, under which most aspirants can shift to 4-year courses in any of the schools under UAC, and this school has tie-ups with most UAC colleges. Classes start in the fall semester of every year. Online courses are also provided at this college.
|Number of Courses||Certificate|
|Campus||De Queen, AR|
Arkansas Tech University offers several programs across its different campus locations. It offers an Associate of Applied Sciences degree to medical assistants. The total credit hours are 60, and the course is divided into 5 semesters. The first is the summer session, which is for 6 credits, followed by 2 fall semesters and spring semesters. The program ends with a Practicum, which is compulsory to complete the degree. The Practicum must be done for 4 weeks or 160 credit hours, and all expenses have to be borne by the candidate.
Moreover, it would be assessed via different examinations if the student is ready to take the CMA examination later and apply for national licensure. Arkansas Tech University has also been featured in the 33rd position on Washington Monthly’s Best Bang for the Buck institutions in 2019. Among Arkansas colleges, it ranks 1st, and that is no surprise! It has state-of-the-art lab facilities, distinguished faculty, and a good student-teacher ratio at all its campus locations. Also, it has good tie-ups with medical organizations around for students to get their practicum experience.
|Number of Courses||Associate's Degree|
North Arkansas College offers 2 MA programs. The first one is a certificate of proficiency program in clinical medical assisting, which comprises of 16-21 credits in total. Another one is a 1-year technical certificate program in medical assisting (clinical and administrative). This program offers a good foundation in acquiring medical assisting skills that require a happy blend of theory and practical experience. A mandatory practicum is also provided to the students at the end of the course so that students gain experience on the job under the direct supervision of the college program director and clinic supervisor.
This training program is usually divided into 2 semesters and invites applications in the fall semester. The first semester has 16-21 credits, and the second has 13 credits, making it a total of 29-34 credits program. The second semester mainly covers the administrative courses that train the students in medical informatics, billing and coding, etc.
|Number of Courses||Certificate|
Founded in 1940, Bryan University offers an associate degree in medical assisting, as well as a diploma. The AAS degree must be completed in 70 weeks, which is roughly estimated to be 7 quarters. These courses have affiliations with American Medical Technologists (AMT) and are among the most preferred accredited MA programs in the state. A practicum or medical externship has to be done at a medical organization at the end of the semester. This course requires 1,205 total credit hours, and 90 total credits have to be earned.
The medical assistant diploma program is a 50-week long course, divided in 5 quarters. This is a shorter course and will make you certification-ready in less than a year. Moreover, students must have a minimum of 2 GPA or Grade C to procure their degree, or they would not be eligible to graduate. Numerous financial aid programs, grants, and scholarships are available.
|Number of Courses||Diploma, Associate's Degree|
Popular and preferred for over 30 years, Vista College offers 2 programs in medical assisting. One is an associate degree, which can be completed in less than 18 months. The primary course curriculum of this program consists of 105 credit hours, and before taking these modules, the students are required to complete the pre-requisite courses first. This course also prepares you for the CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) exam required for employment in many healthcare organizations.
The college also offers a diploma in medical assisting, which can be completed in less than 11 months and takes 58.5 credits to complete. Also, Vista College offers a diploma for medical assistants, uniquely for Spanish speakers. A transfer credit program is available, and scholarships can be granted to qualified students to get through the institute.
|Number of Courses||Diploma, Associate's Degree|
|Campus||Fort Smith, AR|
Known especially for trades training, Blue Cliff College offers a clinical medical assisting diploma program to its MA aspirants. It is a 53 quarter credit hour program that trains its MAs in medical codings, like CPT and ICD-10. It offers day as well as night classes to provide comfort and convenience to its students. The day classes go on for 9 months, and the night classes program lasts for 15 months. Both programs need to invest in supplies that come for another $1,850, and financial aid is available to qualified students. Their classes enroll every 6 weeks, so no worries if you’ve missed a batch of admission.
They offer their students a medical assisting kit containing a uniform and a stethoscope, with other necessary items. The college also offers a Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting (CAMA) online program to the MA candidates. This program is available only to students who have completed the first half of the program on campus. This course is specifically made for working adults who can complete their training without hindering their work or source of livelihood. Graduates of the online CAMA program are awarded an Associate of Occupational Studies degree, making them eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) examination.
|Number of Courses||Diploma|
Picking out a right college is quite a task in itself, but it is not enough if you’re an ambitious soul who believes in your dreams. In other words, the most crucial fact is choosing a degree that suits you best.
Find the best medical assistant degrees in Arkansas here:
Under the legislation passed by the Arkansas General Assembly in 2009, the Arkansas State Medical Board has laid down specific rules that define the scope of practice for medical assistants in Arkansas. As the state does not mandate the necessity of formal training or national license to be eligible to be a medical assistant in Arkansas, MAs are supposed to function within the direct supervision of physicians. They can administer medicines, but there’s a detailed list for the same. Medical assistants in AR are required as employees of physicians who are generally unlicensed.
However, if you enter the field of medical assisting with formal training, you have an advantage over your contemporaries. Formal training may imply you procuring an associate in applied sciences degree, diploma, or a certificate course. Arkansas does not need its medical assistants to be licensed. However, employees either make it a criterion for preference or make it mandatory for specific recruitments. In both cases, it is best just to have a national certification, as that adds credibility to your stellar cover letter, gives you the flexibility to work anywhere in the future, and also displays your commitment to your profession.
There are numerous national certification options available. The two most widely accepted ones include the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) by the American Medical Technologists. For CMA licensing, you can take an examination at any of the Prometric centers across Arkansas. You’ll be required to answer 200 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) about your field of occupation in 2 hours and 40 minutes.
For RMA, you need to fulfill the eligibility criteria to procure the license. You’re eligible for RMA if you have work experience as a medical assistant for a minimum of 5 years or served in the US Military. You can also be qualified to be an RMA if you have enrolled and completed a course in medical assisting that needed you to spend 720 total credit hours, with 160 hours of compulsory externship duties. Preference is given to accredited MA degrees from schools and colleges having Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accreditation for both CMA and RMA licensure.
Other national certification options include Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) by the National Healthcare Association (NHA), National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) by the National Center for Competency Testing, and National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP)’s Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA). They have a list of criteria you need to fulfill to procure the respective licensure for medical assistants.
As of September 11, 2020, indeed.com data reveals that medical assistants in Arkansas receive an hourly salary of $13.49, which is 13% lower than the national average.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data updated in May 2019, the mean hourly salary of AR medical assistants is $14.88, whereas the mean annual wage is $30,950.
|Percentile||Annual Salary (Montana)||Annual Salary (National)|
Source: BLS (as of May 2019)
A quick glimpse at the table above reveals that the salaries of medical assistants in Arkansas are significantly lower than the national wage, at all percentiles, consistently.
Average Salaries of Medical Assistants in Some Major Cities of AR
|City||Hourly Salary (indeed.com, as of Sep 12, 2020)||Annual Salary (salary.com, as of Aug 27, 2020)|
The city of Springdale pays the highest hourly salary of $16.61 to MAs in Arkansas. It is closely followed by Fort Smith with an hourly salary of $16.58. But, Little Rock leads in the cities when it comes to annual salary, with $33,399, closely followed by Jonesboro with the yearly salary of $33,193.
Average Salaries of MAs in Some Metropolitan Areas of AR
|Metropolitan Area||Hourly Salary||Annual Salary|
|Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR||$16.11||$33,510|
Source: BLS (as of May 2019)
Among all metropolitan areas of Arkansas, Memphis, TN-MS-AR pays its medical assistants the highest hourly salary of $16.43 and the highest annual salary of $34,170. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AK follows Memphis with $16.11 hourly and $33,510 yearly pays. Texarkana, TX-AR is the third highest paying metropolitan area of Arkansas, closely followed by Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO, and Jonesboro, AR in the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.
The May 2019 BLS report shows 3,850 total medical assistants are currently employed in the state of Arkansas, and the employment rate per 1,000 jobs is 3.16.
The 5 industries employing the highest number of MAs in the state are given below:
|Ambulatory Health Care Services||3,440|
|Offices of Physicians||2,520|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||750|
|Offices of Chiropractors||370|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||310|
Source: BLS (as of May 2019)
Though the hourly salary for medical assistants of Arkansas is 13% lower than the national average, AR has more potential for medical assistants than the rest of the country. This statement is backed up by the anticipated growth evidence, suggesting that Arkansas would grow a staggering 31% from 2016 to 2026 compared to the 23% national average.
With an annual projected job opening for 480 spots, Arkansas almost leads the states in its demand for medical assistants in the upcoming year. Census data explains why this might be so. The need for MAs is directly linked to the baby boomer population, and Arkansas has 18% of its people who are 65 years old or more, and in need of primary care from healthcare and allied healthcare professionals.
Estimated Employment Growth for Medical Assistants -MT
|Projected Employment Growth in 10 Years||Annual Projected Jobs||Growth %|
|Arkansas||3,160 (2016)||4,130 (2026)||480||31%|
|National||686,600 (2018)||841,500 (2028)||99,700||23%|
Short term projection data by Projection Central also reveals a massive demand for medical assistants in Arkansas. The average annual openings anticipated is 540. From 3,860 MAs in 2019, the number is expected to rise to 4,070, reflecting a 5.4% change in job openings.
The revolution undergoing in the healthcare industry has made all monitoring electronic calls to recruit an increased number of medical assistants in the state. Medical assisting, being a licensed trade, is stable financially, and has numerous non-monetary benefits. As the standard of living is low in Arkansas, the low pay is hardly a hindrance to qualified MAs. Better-paying jobs and positions are available across the country after gaining experience and developing their skill set.
Being a chapter of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), this society oversees the interests of all present and former medical assistants in Arkansas. From job-related information to the latest news updates on medical assisting education, to improving the standards of patient healthcare, this is a valuable resource for medical assistants.
The American Association of Medical Assistants lays down particular laws that define the scope of practice for MAs in Arkansas. Besides being the governing body that overlooks interests, duties, and opportunities for medical assistants across the country, they have all essential medical assistance information. Medical assistants can only perform specific functions and administer particular medicines under the direct supervision of licensed physicians.
This state organization ascertains that all medical facilities have adequate infrastructure and are committed wholly towards delivering better primary healthcare. Besides, they are also responsible for ensuring the good well-being of the people of Arkansas. All medicine-related news and job opportunities can be obtained here.
A state-level society that brings together all healthcare workers of the state, they are also responsible for hosting conferences that improve and advance the skills of medical health professionals besides contributing to research via their peer-reviewed journal. They let healthcare professionals take a more active role in legislating laws that have a direct impact on the general well-being and standard of living in Arkansas.