A medical assistant plays a vital role in the day-to-day operations of a healthcare facility. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in medical assisting, read on to learn how to become a certified medical assistant
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A medical assistant is a person who has completed a certified medical assisting program and has passed a certification exam. Medical assistants work in outpatient facilities such as doctors’ offices and clinics. As members of the healthcare team, they perform both clinical and administrative tasks.
Clinical tasks include taking patient histories, measuring vital signs, administering injections, collecting blood and urine specimens for laboratory testing, performing EKGs, preparing patients for X-rays, and assisting with minor office surgery. Administrative duties include scheduling appointments, handling correspondence, filling out insurance forms, coding medical records and keeping supplies stocked.
In order to become a certified medical assistant (CMA), you must graduate from an accredited medical assisting program and pass the certification exam administered by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
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 perform many administrative, clerical and clinical tasks in physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals and other healthcare settings. Most medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate, although some have completed associate degrees. Some states require medical assistants to be licensed or certified.
Duties of a medical assistant
Medical assistants are unlicensed professionals who perform routine administrative and clinical tasks in doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other medical facilities. In larger facilities, medical assistants usually specialize in one area of work, such as billing and coding or transcribing Medical records
Most medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate from a community college or technical school. Some states regulate medical assistants, and those that do usually require certification. Most employers prefer to hire candidates who are certified.
Medical assistants must be able to perform both administrative and clinical tasks. Administrative duties include answering phones, scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records and billing patients. Clinical duties include taking and recording vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, respiratory rate), preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by a physician.
Education and training requirements
In order to become a certified medical assistant, you will need to complete an accredited medical assisting program. These programs are typically offered at community colleges, technical schools, and some universities. Some programs may be completed in as little as one semester, while others may take up to two years to complete. Once you have completed your medical assisting program, you will then need to pass the certified medical assistant exam in order to earn your certification.
There are many ways to become a certified medical assistant, but most involve completing an accredited program and passing a nationally recognized exam. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to become certified.
Accredited medical assistant programs are available at community colleges, technical schools, and some universities. Many of these programs can be completed in less than two years and will prepare you for the national certification exam.
Once you’ve graduated from an accredited program, you’ll need to pass the nationally recognized Certification Examination for Medical Assistants (CMA). This exam is offered by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To be eligible to take the CMA, you must have graduated from an accredited medical assisting program within the last five years or have completed at least five years of work experience as a medical assistant within the last 10 years.
After passing the CMA, you’ll be a certified medical assistant and can use the credential “CMA” after your name. You’ll also need to renew your certification every 60 months by either retaking the CMA exam or completing continuing education credits.
Salary and job outlook
One of the most common questions people have about medical assisting is what they can expect to earn in salary and how the job market looks for this profession. Here is a quick overview of both of these topics.
Medical assistants earn a median salary of $33,610 per year, with the top 10% earning more than $47,080 and the bottom 10% earning less than $24,370. The job outlook for medical assistants is quite good, with an expected growth rate of 29% between 2016 and 2026. This is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Steps to becoming a medical assistant
Medical assistants perform many administrative and clinical tasks in offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Although they typically do not need license or certification to enter the occupation, some states have certification requirements for certain tasks, such as administering medications or performing x-rays. The following are steps that medical assistants can take to enter the occupation.
1. Graduate from high school or earn a GED
2. Complete a medical assistant program
3. Become certified
4. Find a job
5. Earn continuing education credits to keep certification current
Medical assistant job description
A medical assistant is an allied health professional that supports the work of physicians and other health professionals, usually in a clinic setting. Medical assistants perform a variety of administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of doctors, medical centers, and clinics running smoothly.
The duties of medical assistants vary from office to office, but there are some common tasks that most medical assistants perform on a daily basis. These duties include taking and recording vital signs, patient history, scheduling appointments, preparing laboratory specimens for testing, and assisting with minor office surgeries. Many medical assistants also perform basic lab tests on-site, give injections, take X-rays, and provide patient education.
In order to become a certified medical assistant, you must first complete an accredited training program. These programs are typically offered at community colleges and vocational schools. Once you have completed your training, you must then pass the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
Medical assistant career outlook
The medical assistant career outlook is bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for medical assistants will grow by 29% from 2019 to 2029 — that’s much faster than the average for all occupations.1 Plus, with a median annual salary of $34,800, medical assistant pay is solid.2
To become a certified medical assistant (CMA), you must graduate from an accredited medical assisting program and pass the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants’ (AAMA) CMA Certification Exam.
How to become a certified medical assistant
In order to become a certified medical assistant, you will need to complete an accredited medical assistant program and pass the certification exam. Medical assistant programs are typically offered at community colleges and technical schools, and take about one year to complete.
Once you have completed a medical assistant program, you will be eligible to take the certification exam. There are several certification exams available, but the most common is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To be eligible to take the CMA exam, you must have completed an accredited medical assistant program and have at least five years of experience working as a medical assistant.
Once you have passed the CMA exam, you will be a certified medical assistant and will be able to use the credential “CMA” after your name. You will also be eligible for membership in the AAMA, which provides many benefits, such as discounts on continuing education and liability insurance.