This post provides detailed information on the certified medical assistant career, including how to become one, the various opportunities available, and the benefits of being a certified medical assistant.
How to become a Certified Medical Assistant
The following steps will aid you in becoming a certified medical assistant:
Step 1: Get your High School Diploma or GED
The most important step in the process of becoming a certified medical assistant is probably to graduate from high school or complete a GED program.
At this point, students should prioritize scientific and math courses that will help them prepare for a future as a CMA, such as biology, chemistry, physics, statistics, algebra, and related electives.
Volunteering at a local clinic or physician’s office may also be beneficial because it improves a student’s candidacy for postsecondary school programs and exposes the individual to the rigors of working in a healthcare environment.
Step 2: Complete the Necessary Medical Assistant Program
While there are no official education requirements for medical assistants, the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) requires these healthcare professionals to finish an authorized postsecondary degree before pursuing certification.
According to AAMA, to be eligible to take the CMA (AAMA) certification examination you need to be a graduate of medical assisting programs approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
You can also be eligible to take the certification exam if you are a graduate of a medical assisting program that is approved by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Each organization publishes a list of approved programs across the country.
According to the AAMA, approved programs typically provide instruction in a wide range of clinical and administrative subjects, including:
- Human anatomy
- Medical terminology
- First aid
- Lab techniques
- How to administer medicine
- Coding and insurance processing
- Record-keeping and accounting
- Computer competency
- Medical law and ethics.
Students in these programs must also complete a practicum, which is an unpaid supervised internship in a healthcare setting.
Alternatively, the AAMA started a pilot program in August 2019 to provide medical assistants with another educational option to be qualified for the CMA certification exam.
This is a limited-time offer that attempts to increase access to certification.
Courses that must be included in the postsecondary program curriculum are:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Infection control
- Applied mathematics
- Theory and techniques of intramuscular
- Subcutaneous injection administration
- Theory and techniques of phlebotomy.
The AAMA’s documentation review is free; however students must pay exam fees if they qualify.
Step 3: Complete the CMA Exam (less than one year)
Finally, after graduating from a recognized medical assisting program, the individual must pass the CMA (AAMA) Certification Examination or the equivalent through one of the organizations stated above.
A completed application and a fee of $125 are required for aspiring CMAs. Furthermore, CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited programs typically transmit formal transcripts to the AAMA to confirm the student’s candidacy for the certification exam.
Step 4: Keep the AAMA (CMA) Credit (Every 60 Months)
You will be expected
The AAMA (CMA) certification expires in 60 months. You can renew it by passing an examination.
Another way you can renew your certification is by completing 60 continuing education units (i.e., recertification points) in the following content areas:
- General (10)
- Administrative (10)
- Clinical (10)
- Or any combination of the above three content areas.
What Certified Medical Assistant Do
The certified medical assistant performs various functions, including verifying and recording clinical and administrative data. Read more details on certified medical assistant job description.
Certified Medical Assistant Career Opportunities
Here are major career opportunities a certified medical assistant can explore:
- Medical Executive Assistant
A medical executive assistant provides administrative support to an executive or a manager.
They help their employers by performing duties such as: managing call and correspondence calendars, managing relationships with creditors and vendors, and answering phone calls and emails from customers.
2. Medical Office Manager
A medical office manager is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the practice.
The office manager oversees the clerical staff and handles tasks such as: managing patient appointments, handling billing and collection procedures, and coordinating nursing team schedules, and delegation of administrative tasks.
3. Medical Practice Manager
A medical practice manager manages a medical office, hospital department or clinic.
They have to be able to manage several clinic employees, such as physicians, nurses, and medical assistants.
4. Patient Care Manager
A patient care manager is also known as a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant. They are responsible for managing patient care and providing patient education.
Patient care managers also provide direct customer service to patients.
5. Business Office Manager
A business office manager is one who manages a business office, including arranging schedules and delegating tasks among other things.
A business office manager may be an administrative co-worker or an executive assistant.
6. Medical Office Administrator
A medical office administrator manages the office environment, including keeping the work environment clean and ensuring that supplies are well-stocked.
Their job also include accessing computerized records, handling space planning, and coordinating schedules among other things.
More Certified Medical Assistant Career Opportunities
7. Registered Nurse
A registered nurse helps patients manage and/or recover from illness. They assist physicians by performing tasks, such as administering treatment, recording patient progress, and educating patients.
8. Medical Assistant Manager
A medical assistant manager is responsible for the supervision of one or more individuals.
They assist management in the development and implementation of policies and procedures to ensure that an organization’s activities are conducted at maximum efficiency and productivity within the scope of their authority.
9. Medical Center Manager
A medical center manager manages the entire operation of a health care facility.
They may also be responsible for other aspects of the facility, such as purchasing, supplies, maintenance, and planning.
10. Registered Nurse Supervisor
A registered nurse supervisor heads a registered nurses division within a hospital or clinic.
They are responsible for overseeing the registered nurses within their division and ensure facilities comply with federal regulations in health care services.
Challenges faced by Certified Medical Assistants on the Job
Here are some of the challenges a certified medical assistant might face on the job:
The certified medical assistant could face a stressful situation when they work with a physician who is under high pressure.
An unfamiliar patient, who some feel they are unable to help, could be a source of tension.
Certified medical assistants could also face stress if the work is too complicated or the tasks are not clear to them.
2. Long Working Hour
A certified medical assistant might surprise him/herself when he/she realizes that his/her working hours would be extended by their schedule of shifts.
Shifts are usually very long and always change due to the availability of patients.
3. High-pressure Environment
The Certified medical assistant works in a high-pressure environment. This is because he/she works with so many people and there are always time constraints and deadlines in place.
Major Benefits of Certified Medical Assistant Career
Here are major benefits a certified medical assistant can enjoy:
- Employee Benefits
An employer’s health insurance plan is an important part of compensation when you start working.
Many employers also offer other non-health benefits, such as medical/dental/vision coverage and life insurance.
This varies, depending on the employer and the type of contract you have.
Some employers provide all of these types of benefits, while others only offer a few.
Most employers pay all or part of this cost for their employees and family members.
2. Valuable Relationship with Patients
A certified medical assistant is also an important part of the patient care team. Your role includes performing a variety of tasks, some of which are highly technical and complex.
Like other healthcare professionals, your ability to understand the needs and concerns of the patient and their family members is critical in responding to the patient’s health care needs.
3. Opportunities for Growth and Advancement
In the certified medical assistant career, you can build your skills by training in new areas.
As you gain experience, there are opportunities to take on new responsibilities and develop your career.
4. Training Provided by Employer
A certified medical assistant may receive on-the-job training from supervisors or experienced workers.
You may work with experienced medical assistants who will share their knowledge and skills with you.
Employers also offer formal training programs to help you develop new skills and expand your understanding of medical assisting practices.
Many employers also provide certification classes that can add to your professional credibility and marketability.
More Benefits of Certified Medical Assistant Career
5. Work Environment
Your certified medical assistant career does not only give you the opportunity to work and learn in different healthcare settings, but also offers a wide range of job duties.
Some medical assistants specialize in one specific area, such as pediatrics or dermatology. Other medical assistants work with a variety of patients and procedures.
6. Financial Stability and Job Security
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projects that employment for medical assistants will increase faster than the average for all careers through 2024.
As the healthcare industry grows, medical assistants will be in high demand to help provide healthcare services.
7. Make a Difference
As a certified medical assistant, you have the opportunity to work with patients and their families.
You’ll get to know them on a personal level and help them make decisions about their care.
As you learn more about different types of health problems, you can build your knowledge and skills as a medical assistant.
The certified medical assistant career is one you can choose if you are passionate about helping people.
Certified medical assistants are important part of the healthcare industry. Without them, many patients would be unable to receive the care they need. They are also essential in helping to educate people on what to expect before and after visiting the doctor’s office.