As a certified medical assistant, you'd create a welcoming atmosphere for patients, take their vital signs, do bookkeeping and billing, schedule appointments, and keep patient records current. The BLS estimates that this field will grow faster than average at 18 percent between 2020 and 2030. If you’re interested in becoming a certified medical assistant, how do you do it?
To become a certified medical assistant, you must have your GED or high school diploma as well as complete a medical assistant training program. In some cases, you may need experience at a medical facility. You then can qualify to take a third-party medical assisting certification or licensing exam. Once you have your certification, you can pursue jobs at medical facilities.
This guide to medical assistance certifications will first go over your medical assisting certification options. Then we’ll discuss how you can earn your certification and how long it will take. There’s lots of great information to come, so don’t miss it!
The road to becoming a certified medical assistant begins with selecting the certification(s) you’re most interested in. You have a variety of medical assisting certifications to choose from, so let’s talk about them in more detail now.
CCMA is short for a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant. With a CCMA certification, you prove your proficiency in a variety of duties. A medical facility that hires you might ask you to do clerical tasks around the hospital or doctor’s office.
You can also administer medications to sick or injured patients. When a patient comes in for a physical examination, you can be there to assist the doctor or nurse with whatever they need. Should a patient require a blood sample, you can draw their blood since you have a CCMA certification.
Your certified medical assistant role with this cert may also entail taking vitals and recording them on the patient’s record.
A CMAA certification makes you a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant. Although the two job roles sound similar, and despite that the abbreviations are nearly identical, you would fulfill different duties as a CMAA versus a CCMA.
For example, as a CMAA, you’d serve receptionist duties for the medical facility. You’d answer phone calls, redirect patients who want to speak to a specific party, take down messages, and call back patients.
You’d also manage patient charts and medical records. When a patient comes in and pays with their insurance card, as a CMAA, it’d be your responsibility to process their payment.
You may also schedule patients’ appointments for them or confirm appointments when they call or send an email. On the day of the appointment, when the patient arrives, you’d check them in before they see the doctor and then check them out afterward.
The third type of medical assisting certification is a Registered Medical Assistant or RMA. As an RMA, you have a mix of administrative and clinical duties, so it’s like working as a CMAA and a CCMA but with one certification.
On the administrative side, you’d regularly work in administrative medical software to fill out insurance information, update insurance forms, schedule patient appointments, and keep a patient’s electronic health records current.
Every time a patient gets a medical test done, you’d have to go in and change their information. That’d also be the case after checkups and appointments.
RMAs will do accounting and bookkeeping, patient correspondence, and medical billing and coding on the administrative end. They’re also available to answer phone calls from patients.
The clerical duties of an RMA include administering medications, taking blood samples, tracking a patient’s vital signs (as well as their height and weight), and assisting a doctor or nurse.
Further, an RMA can do electrocardiograms as well as most basic lab tests. They can even prepare a patient for an exam or a treatment.
Now that you’ve selected the medical assisting certification you’re interested in pursuing, it’s time to prepare to take the certifying exam.
The National Healthcareer Association or NHA is a certifying body for aspiring medical assistants to consider. Certification through the NHA is how you become a certified CCMA or CMAA.
The NHA and other certifying bodies have specific criteria in place for those who want to earn their certifications. Thus, you should follow these steps.
At the very least, to become a certified medical assistant, you need a high school diploma or GED.
You can’t jump from high school right into becoming a certified medical assistant. Next, you must enroll in an accredited medical assistant program. The requirements for that program vary.
Some programs require you to complete externship hours at a medical facility, while others, such as Bryan University’s Medical Assistant Certificate program, allow you to complete your externship online.
In order to obtain your medical assisting certification, you will need to pass a CPR exam. Many medical assisting programs will help prepare you for CPR certification.
Finally, after completing your medical assisting accredited program and CPR certification, you can signup and take the certifying exam. Once you pass, you’re now a certified CCMA, CMAA, or RMA!
Speaking of the exam, is it difficult to get certified as a medical assistant?
The test can be hard, yes. Some figures have estimated that only a little over 60 percent of test-takers pass the CCMA exam through the NHA the first time around.
However, by the time you apply to become a certified medical assistant, you should have graduated from an educational program, potentially earned an accredited certificate or degree, and prepared for the exam through your program of study.
Plus, you are allowed to retake certifying exams if they don’t go your way. According to the AMT website, if you fail their exam, you have 45 days to schedule your retake exam. You can retry up to four times per certification.
As an FYI, you do have to pay to retake the test every time.
Even if it’s your career aspiration today, you cannot become a certified medical assistant tomorrow.
Let’s do a breakdown of how long it may take you to reach this milestone.
First, you must have four years of high school experience. Then, you have to spend time in a medical assisting accredited program, which could take at least a few months to two years.
Is it always that much of a process? No, but we must stress that that depends very much on the certifying body you select.
If you’re looking for an accredited medical assisting program to enroll in on your way to becoming certified, Bryan University could be just the school for you.
As an enrollee in the Clinical Medical Assistant Undergraduate Certificate program, you’ll develop and sharpen skills that will make you an excellent certified medical assistant. Plus, you can continue on to earn your Associate Degree in Medical Assisting.
Both programs provide you an at-home medical kit so you get plenty of practice applying your skills throughout each program.
You’ll learn how to assist with specialty exams such as electrocardiograms, diagnostic imaging, radiology, and more. You can practice patient exams with ear and eye assessments. You’ll be instructed in taking vital signs, collecting blood samples, and performing injections.
The coursework will teach you medical terminology as well as medical billing and coding.
Your virtual externship will put you in scenarios that will make you readier to work as a certified medical assistant. You’ll also go through learning modules that will test your core clinical competencies.
With your tuition, you’ll receive a medical kit with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and related equipment so you can practice along with your online lessons. Your office software, courseware, and books are included in the tuition costs as well.
More so, Bryan University will cover the NHA’s certification fees for both the CCMA and the CMAA so you can get on the road to working as a medical assistant!