The Arkansas General Assembly passed an amendment to the Arkansas Medical Practices Act in 2009 that specifically addressed physician task-delegation to medical assistants. This opened the door for the Arkansas State Medical Board to adopt rules that would establish standards regarding the delegation of tasks to properly trained and qualified medical assistants.
This amendment also established a number of parameters that the Arkansas State Medical Board is required to follow when adopting regulations regarding the supervision of unlicensed employees, as well as limits on the types of drugs administered by the medical assistant (medical assistants may administer medication under a physician’s direct supervision).
In response to the Arkansas General Assembly, the Board adopted Regulation 31, entitled Physician Delegation Regulation. Regulation 31 defines a medical assistant as an employee of a physician, who has not been licensed, and who has been specifically authorized to perform tasks for medical professionals pursuant to other provisions of Arkansas law.
If you want to become a medical assistant in Arkansas, you should consider completing the following steps:
|Complete a Formal Education Program in Medical Assisting|
|Earn a National Credential in Medical Assisting|
|Find a Job as a Medical Assistant in Arkansas|
Step 1. Complete a Formal Education Program in Medical Assisting
It is important to note that Regulation 31 establishes guidelines for physicians to follow in delegating tasks, while leaving physicians with substantial discretion to decide which procedures may be delegated to their medical assistants.
This means that physicians in Arkansas seek medical assistants who are fully qualified to perform a number of clinical duties under their direct supervision. It is through a comprehensive education that you will receive the training and education necessary to serve as a competent, entry-level medical assistant.
You may choose to complete a diploma, certificate, or associate-level medical assistant program, all of which include a clinical internship. Certificate programs are typically the shortest in duration and are therefore ideal for candidates who want swift entry into the profession. Diploma programs, which may be just a few weeks longer than certificate programs, however, are often designed for candidates who want to eventually pursue an associate’s program in medical assisting, as coursework credit is often transferrable. Finally, associate degrees in medical assisting provide in-depth study of the profession and may be ideal for candidates who have goals of earning more advanced degrees in everything from nursing to medical administration.
A program accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) ensures that graduates possess the minimum competencies of entry-level medical assistants. Accredited programs are also often a requirement for national certification.
There is 1 CAAHEP-accredited program and 1 ABHES-accredited program in Arkansas.
Step 2. Earn a National Credential in Medical Assisting
It is no surprise that a number of national credentials exist for medical assistants, particularly considering a lack of state licensing for these allied health professionals. National certification, although voluntary, is pursued by many medical assistants in Arkansas, as it signifies a commitment to the profession and a higher level of knowledge and expertise in the field.
Most national certifications require meeting specific minimum requirements, such as the completion of a formal education program in medical assisting. They also require the successful completion of a certification examination:
- National Center for Competency Testing: The National Certified Medical Assistant
- National Healthcare Association: Certified Clinical Medical Assistant
- The American Association of Medical Assistants: Certified Medical Assistant credential
- The American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistants: Podiatric Medical Assistant, Certified
- The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel In Ophthalmology: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant
Step 3. Find a Job as a Medical Assistant in Arkansas
As of 2012, there were 1,986 medical assistants in Arkansas, as reported by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. The Department projects that by 2018 there will be 2,603 medical assistants working in Arkansas, and an average of 93 new jobs created in the field each year.
The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services also reported that the largest employers of medical assistants in state were:
- Offices of physicians
- Offices of other healthcare practitioners
- General medical and surgical hospitals
- Ambulatory healthcare services
One of the best ways to begin your search for a medical assistant job in Arkansas is by exploring the State’s largest medical groups:
- Cooper Clinic, Fort Smith
- Arkansas Health Group, Little Rock
- Baptist Memorial Health Care, Jonesboro
- 19th Medical Group, Little Rock Air Force Base
You can also stay connected with others in your profession through membership in medical assistant professional associations, such as the Arkansas Society of Medical Assistants.