- What is a Medical Assistant?
- Duties of a Medical Assistant
- Education and Certification
- How to Get Certification as a Medical Assistant
- Medical Assistant Certification Exam
- Renewing Your Certification
- Medical Assistant Certification Organizations
- Certification for Specialized Medical Assistants
Everything you need to know about getting certified as a medical assistant from the requirements to the process to the benefits.
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The medical assistant profession is one of the few in healthcare that does not require certification for entry-level positions. However, many employers prefer or require certification, and some states have passed legislation that mandates certification for Medical assistants Certification can also lead to career advancement and higher earnings. There are several ways to become certified as a medical assistant.
What is a Medical Assistant?
A medical assistant is a multi-skilled professional who supports the work of physicians and other health care providers. Medical Assistants may perform administrative tasks in an office setting, or they may be responsible for clinical tasks such as taking medical histories, recording vital signs, and giving injections. Some states allow medical assistants to perform certain restricted tasks, such as administering medications or removing sutures.
Medical assistants typically have at least a high school diploma, although some employers may prefer applicants who have completed a postsecondary training program. Many community colleges offer certificate or diploma programs in medical assisting, and some four-year colleges offer bachelor’s degree programs. Programs typically last between one and two years and include coursework in anatomy, physiology, Medical Terminology pharmaceuticals,first aid, CPR, and office procedures.
Most states do not require medical assistants to be licensed or certified. However, certification may be required by some employers or clients. Certification is available from several organizations including the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), and the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Certification generally requires successful completion of an exam.
Duties of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants perform a variety of duties to keep the offices of physicians and other health practitioners running smoothly. They may take medical histories and record vital signs, explain procedures to patients, prepare them for examination, and authorize insurance forms. Increasingly, medical assistants are playing a larger role in patient care by performing basic laboratory tests, giving injections, and removing sutures. Many medical assistants also take on administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments, handling correspondence, and billing patients.
Education and Certification
In order to be a certified medical assistant, you will need to complete an accredited medical assistant program and pass a certification exam. Once you have completed your medical assistant education and training, you will be able to sit for the certification exam.
There are a few different options for medical assistant certification, but the most common is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To be eligible for the CMA credential, you must have graduated from an accredited medical assistant program and passed the CMA Certification Exam.
The other option for medical assistant certification is the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential offered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). To be eligible for the RMA credential, you must have graduated from an accredited medical assistant program and passed the AMT Certification/Registration Exam.
Once you have completed your medical assistant education and training, and passed your certification exam, you will be a certified medical assistant. You will then need to keep your credential current by renewing it every few years and completing continuing education requirements.
How to Get Certification as a Medical Assistant
There are a few ways to get certified as a medical assistant. The most common way is to earn national certification through an accredited program. You can find these programs at community colleges, technical schools, and some universities. Once you have completed an accredited program, you will need to pass a national exam to earn your certification.
Some states require medical assistants to be certified in order to work in the state. In these states, you will need to complete an accredited program and pass a state-specific exam. Check with your state’s Board of Medicine to see if certification is required.
In some cases, you may be able to get certified through on-the-job training. This typically requires completing a short medical assisting program and passing an exam administered by your employer. Check with your employer to see if this option is available.
Medical Assistant Certification Exam
The Medical Assistant Certification Exam is administered by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To sit for the exam, candidates must have graduated from an accredited medical assisting educational program and completed a minimum of five years full-time work experience as a medical assistant.
There are two parts to the examination – a written and a clinical component. The written examination tests knowledge in three subject areas: general, administrative, and clinical. The clinical examination tests skills in seven areas: vital signs, patient history-taking, physical measurements, routine laboratory procedures,preparing patients for examinations, diagnostic testing, and phlebotomy.
Renewing Your Certification
There are many reasons why you might need to renew your certification as a medical assistant. Perhaps you let your certification lapse and now you need to re-certify, or maybe you’re simply due for a renewal. Regardless of the reason, the process for renewing your medical assistant certification is relatively straightforward.
In order to renew your certification, you will first need to meet the requirements set forth by your certifying organization. These requirements may vary depending on the organization, but they typically include completing a certain number of continuing education credits and/or passing a competency exam. Once you have met the requirements, you will then need to submit an application for renewal and pay the associated fees.
Once your application has been processed, you will be issued a new certificate with a new expiration date. It is important to keep track of this expiration date, as letting your certification lapse can jeopardize your ability to work as a medical assistant. Renewing your certification on time is the best way to ensure that you can continue working in this field without interruption.
Medical Assistant Certification Organizations
There are many medical assistant certification organizations, all of which have different eligibility requirements, application processes, and costs. Here is a list of some of the most popular organizations:
– American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
– National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
– National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)
– American Medical Technologists (AMT)
Each organization has its own list of requirements that you must meet before you can sit for the certification exam. For most organizations, you must have graduated from an accredited medical assistant program and have worked in the field for a certain period of time before you are eligible to apply.
You can find more information about specific certification organizations and their requirements on their websites or by contacting them directly.
Certification for Specialized Medical Assistants
There are a few organizations that offer certification to medical assistants who have completed specific training or who have a certain amount of experience working in the field. These credentials can demonstrate to employers that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform your job well.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential. To be eligible for this certification, you must graduate from an accredited medical assistant program and pass an exam. You must also submit proof of your professional liability insurance. This credential is valid for 60 months, and you will need to complete continuing education credits to maintain it.
The National Healthcare Association (NHA) offers the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential. To be eligible for this certification, you must have completed an accredited medical assistant program or have at least one year of experience working as a medical assistant. You must also pass an exam. This credential is valid for 36 months, and you will need to complete continuing education credits to maintain it.
As you can see, there are many different ways to become a certified medical assistant. The best way to find out what is required in your state is to contact your local medical assisting professional organization or the American Association of Medical Assistants.