Medical Assistant Requirements: Education, Job, and Certification

Medical Assistant educational, job, and certification requirements.
Medical Assistants require certain skills to succeed on the job. Image source: Careercalifornia.edu

Medical Assistant Requirements: Education, Job, and Certification

Are you a medical assistant or someone interested in becoming one? If you are, then you will find this post helpful in learning about the requirements, including educational, job, and certification requirements that you need to fulfill to succeed in your medical assisting career.

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Medical Assistant Requirements for Career Success

Here are requirements to fulfill for a successful medical assisting career:

  1. Medical Assistant Educational Requirements

To start a career as a medical assistant, you must attain the educational requirements needed to help you gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be effective working as a medical assistant.

The kind of education you need to have for the medical assistant career is given below:

  • High school diploma or GED: The minimum education to have to become a medical assistant is High School diploma, which gives basic knowledge about medical settings. The individual must have completed High School educational program and must have passed required courses like Biology, Chemistry to begin their career as a medical assistant. They will have to find a physician to work with where they will learn on the job.
  • Associate’s degree: Acquiring an Associate’s degree in Medical Assistant is the main prerequisite in starting a career as a medical assistant. This program is designed to equip the student for the career ahead as a medical assistant. In this program, students are tutored on the scope and roles of a medical assistant and to prepare them to take one or more of the nationally recognized certification exams such as Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). When pursuing an education in medical assisting, you should consider programs accredited by a nationally recognized body such as Allied Health Education Program. Admission requirements for Associate’s degree in Medical Assistant program: To enroll for the Associate’s degree Medical Assistant program, candidates must attain high school training and must pass Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics. It takes two years to complete this program.

2. Medical Assistant Job Requirements

To work as a medical assistant, the requirements you need to meet may differ for various organizations.

You must at least have a High School diploma or GED or an Associate’s degree in Medical assisting.

The following are major requirements that you need to meet to work as a medical assistant in most organizations:

  • High level of professionalism: Medical assistants must meet up with the level of expertise expected by the organization where they work.
  • Strong customer service skills: A medical assistant should have good customer relationship skills and also understands their customers and their different problems.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills: This is an essential quality of a medical assistant. He/she should be able to communicate effectively with patients.
  • A medical assistant should have the ability to perform administrative tasks, such as bookkeeping procedures and insurance claims processing.
  • They should have the skills to perform clinical tasks, including sterilization techniques, specimen collection, diagnostic testing, vital signs, and patient care.
  • They should have the skills to communicate with different patients regarding disease prevention, health maintenance, community resources, and physician instructions, to improve their health situation.
  • Analytical skills: Medical assistants must be able to analyze and follow medical charts and diagnoses to be able to effectively code patients’ medical records for the purpose of billing.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills: Medical assistants need to be able to review patients’ information with other medical practitioners, such as doctor or physicians, and to interact with patients who may be in pain or in distress or in a complicated health condition.
  • Medical assistants should be able to use basic clinical instruments and equipment so they can take a patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure.

Also see medical assistant skills, knowledge, and abilities for career success.

3. Medical Assistant Certification Requirements

Having a certification as a medical assistant gives you a higher profile that those who do not have it. It increases your chances of getting a job easily as well as opening doors to higher paying jobs.

It is therefore advantageous to have one or two certifications as a medical assistant for faster career growth.

Here are various accredited certification programs for the medical assisting career that you might consider taking:

  • Certified Medical Assistant (CMA): This certificate program is accredited and awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). It is initiated to certify that candidates are full-fledged medical assistants after successful completion of the program. Requirements: To enroll in this program, the candidate must have graduated from postsecondary medical assisting program.
  • Registered Medical Assistant (RMA): RMA is an assistant who passed the AMT certification exam and has been awarded the credential of RMA. American Medical Technologist (AMT) is accredited by National Commission for Certifying Agency (NCCA) to award the Registered Medical Assistant, RMA certification. Requirements: In order to become a Registered Medical Assistant, you will apply to the American Medical Technologist (AMT) to sit for the national certification exam.
  • Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA): This is a nationally recognized certification for medical administrative assistant. It demonstrates your ability to perform schedule administrative tasks in a medical setting. It is accredited by the National Health Career Association. Requirements: To enroll in this program, you will need to have at least a High School diploma or GED and you will also need to have completed a medical assistant training program or have one year experience in the work field.
  • Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA): This program is designed by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). A Certified Clinical Medical Assistant is a medical assistant that has gone further in the field by qualifying for the certification. Requirements: To become a CCMA, you must at least hold a High School diploma; NHA also requires that you must have completed a medical assistant training program.
  • National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA): This certification is issued by the National Center for Competency Testing. It is an entry-level healthcare credential. Requirements: Candidates must possess a High School diploma or its equivalent and must have successfully completed an NCIT approved medical assistant program.

Medical Assistant Responsibilities

Medical assistants perform various duties including securing medical records, assisting the doctor, and maintaining medical supplies inventory.

Shown below are highlights of the medical assistant’s major responsibilities:

  • Validate patients’ information by interacting or interviewing them; record medical history and confirm the purpose of visit of the patient
  • Maintain safe, secure, and healthy working condition by establishing and following procedures and medical ethic with regards to legal regulations
  • Schedule surgical operations by making arrangements with the surgical department and verify times with patients; prepare charts and create appointments for patients with the doctor
  • Keep equipment in good condition by following operating directions; avoid breakdown of equipment, maintain supplies, service facilities, and call for repairs if equipment is found faulty
  • Perform clinic/clerical front desk duties, including answering and placing of telephone calls, obtaining and verifying patients’ information such as patient check in and out
  • Educate and advise patients on specific medical issues
  • Provide instructions and directions to patients regarding diagnostic tests, procedures, and treatments and preventions
  • Obtain patient medical history, vital signs, and chart preparation; medication dosage and frequency and patient allergens; and assist with medical examinations
  • Perform data entry of laboratory studies, radiographic tests, and approval request in compliance with physician or registered nurse instructions
  • Advances job knowledge by participating in educational programs or reading professional publications.

See also medical assistant job description.

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