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Which Certification Is Right For My Medical Assistant Career?

Posted by Athena Career Academy on Dec 21, 2017

Which Certification is right for my Medical Assistant Career?

Medical assisting is one of the fastest growing careers in healthcare.

Medical assistants perform both clinical and administrative duties including. Some of these duties include:

  • Answering phone calls and questions
  • Checking patients in and out
  • Working in the electronic health records
  • Taking patient vital signs
  • Assisting providers with exams and procedures
  • Administering injections or medications.

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In most states, medical assistants do not need to be licensed. However, they may need a license to perform certain procedures like giving injections or administering meds. In addition, many of the best positions are highly competitive. This means that many medical assistants are now deciding to become certified since the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential represents the highest standard of professionalism in the field. There are four types of certification to choose from.  Pursuing the proper one is important for your ultimate career goal.

Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

Credentials for a Certified Medical Assistant come from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA.) The CMA is the only allied health professional required to graduate from an accredited postsecondary medical assisting program that focuses on training for work in medical offices, clinics, and other outpatient care centers. To become a CMA, medical assistants must be able to meet the following standards:

  • Candidates must have graduated from a medical assisting program. This may be a one-year certificate or diploma program or a two-year associate degree program. Either The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) must accredit the program.
  • Candidates must take and pass the CMA Certification Examination. The CMA credential requires recertification every 60 months.

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

Receiving the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant designation from the National Healthcare Association (NHA) can allow medical assistants to perform more clinical duties.

Medical assistants must meet the following eligibility requirements and take and pass the CCMA examination:

  • Must possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Must have successfully completed a training program or one year of work experience as a medical assistant

Once certified as a CCMA, you also must complete continuing education credits every two years to maintain your status.

National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)

The National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) distinction is offered through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCTT.) This certification is for medical assistants who take and pass the NCMA examination and meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Must be a current student or recent graduate (in the past 10 years) from a medical assistant program from a school authorized by the NCCT
  • Must have been a medical assistant instructor with 10 or more years of experience
  • Must possess at least two years of verifiable full-time experience as a medical assistant practitioner within the last 10 years

NCMA certification expires 2 years after the test date. To renew your certification you are required to attend one live seminar and one workshop every two years. 

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Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

A Registered Medical Assistant is a medical assistant who has passed the American Medical Technologies (AMT) Certification Exam and has been awarded the credential of RMA. This credential is reserved for https://info.athenacareers.edu/blog/cma-jobs-grow-30m who meet one of the following requirements and who take and pass the RMA exam:

  • Education: Candidates must have graduated within four years from a medical assisting program approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or by the AMT Board of Directors. The program must include at least 720 hours of medical assisting, including a clinical externship of at least 160 hours.
  • Military: Candidates must have graduated within four years from a formal medical services training program within the United States Armed Forces.
  • Work Experience: Candidates must be a high school graduate and must have been employed as a full-time medical assistant in 5 out of the last 7 years. Work experience must include both clinical and administrative duties.
  • Instructor: Candidates must be a current instructor in an accredited medical assisting program and have completed a course of instruction in a healthcare discipline related to medical assisting. Candidates must also have at least 5 years of teaching experience in a medical assisting discipline.
  • Other Recognized Examination: Candidates must have taken and passed another certification organization’s exam in medical assisting that has been approved by the AMT Board of Directors.

The RMA credential requires completion of the AMT Certification Continuation Program every three years.

It is possible to work as a medical assistant without being certified. But employers are often looking for the cream of the crop. That it demonstrated by becoming certified. It shows employers, coworkers, and patients that you have mastered the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high quality service. Contact Athena Career Academy to learn more about how you can become a Medical Assistant.

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Topics: Clinical Medical Assistant