Becoming a medical assistant is now an affordable option for those who are looking forward to working in the medical field with little or no education. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections 2012-2022 report, there will be much demand for Medical Assistants due to the increased need for health care especially with patients that require more services. And in order to ensure that we capture everything about the profession, we took the help of MedAssistantEdu.
To become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), one must first pass the CMA examination after completing high school or earning a GED. Completing an Associate Degree in Nursing program is also another option for those who do not have a high school diploma or GED.
A Certified Medical Assistant must also complete a medical assisting program at a college or university that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The high school student can choose to pursue CMA certification as part of a career-training program offered by a vocational school or technical college. The Certified Medical Assistant Program requires a minimum of 3,000 hours of a combination of both theoretical and practical training. A high school diploma or GED is also required for entrance into this program. The student will then be eligible to take the CMA examination after completing their program.
A passing grade on the CMA certification exam results in a credential that is nationally recognized as a symbol of quality by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The CMA certification also provides the student who will be working as a medical assistant with greater opportunities, better salaries, and job advancement.
After completing a program in Medical Assisting, the student is ready to take the CMA certification examination given by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). The test may be taken at a Prometric testing center near the student’s location. After the successful completion of the CMA certification exam, the student or Certified Medical Assistant is encouraged to continue his/her professional development by taking courses at a college or university.
Any medical assistant who wants to earn more and increase their chances of promotion should consider becoming Board Certified. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) provides certification for Certified Clinical Medical Assistants (CCMA).
The examination covers these seven topic areas: Basic Science, Coding and Billing, Administrative Aspects of the Medical Office, Clinical Procedures and Assessment of Patients, Quality Assurance and Inspection Process, Patient Relations and Company/Office Policy.
The examination is a computer adaptive test meaning that the level of difficulty changes according to how well an individual performs or answers a particular question on the test. The length of time for taking this exam is 3 ½ hours, and there is an optional survey at the end.
The Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) credential is valid for 5 years after which time it must be renewed by completing continuing education in medical assisting or re-examination.
A person who has earned their CCMA certification will have better career opportunities, higher salaries, and more advancements than those who have not.
One of the most important benefits that come with having this credential is that it increases your credibility as a medical assistant. And today, credibility is everything. It can mean the difference between landing a job and not landing one at all. Therefore, earning certification in any field always proves to be an advantage no matter how long you have been in the field.
Roles, Responsibilities, and Salary
Medical assistants work in a variety of clinical settings and earn an average hourly wage of $15.54 and an average annual salary of $32,590. Medical Assistants provide support to physicians and other healthcare professionals by performing administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of a physician or other healthcare professional.
Medical Assistants responsibilities include but are not limited to preparing patients for examination, observe patient vital signs, room patients, set up equipment and rooms before examinations or procedures, take patient history, perform basic lab tests under the supervision of a Medical Doctor (MD) or Physician’s Assistant (PA), prepare records on patients care which is then submitted to the patient’s health care provider, and dictate reports for medical records.
What are the different categories of medical assistant certification?
- Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The AAMA’s CCMA certification is one of the most recognized certifications in medical assisting. In order to sit for the exam, a candidate must have earned an associate degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or have completed a two-year program at the associate degree level that includes an externship in a medical office.
- Registered Clinical Medical Assistant (R.C.M.A.) through National Healthcareer Association (NHA). The NHA’s R.C.M.A certification is the only certification in clinical medical assisting that requires a high school diploma or equivalent, minimum of six months of experience in a medical office, and an associate degree.
- Certified Coding Specialist/Coder (CCS/C) through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The AHIMA’s CCS certification ensures that all coders have a solid foundation in medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology as well as electronic health record systems used in coding for reimbursement for all services provided by physicians and other healthcare providers.
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) through the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). The CMAA allows medical assistants with an associate degree to demonstrate their expertise in a variety of administrative areas including insurance compliance, scheduling, transcription, and coding.
- Certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). AAMA certification recognizes the knowledge and expertise acquired through an individual’s education, experience, and commitment to the profession. Certification is open to certified medical assistants (CMAs) who meet specific requirements in course work and clinical hours.