Becoming a licensed medical assistant opens up more doors for employment, which is why many people voluntarily elect certification. There is more than one type of medical assistant license available, so determining which one to strive for is something that can often be difficult. The following information can help you decide which one is right for you.
AAMA Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
This certification is provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The AAMA exam is designed to test your proficiency in the general, administrative, and clinical skills required to work in a medical clinic. Some of the things this exam covers includes:
- Anatomy, physiology and pathology
- Medical terminology
- First aid
- Coding and insurance processing
- Office practices
This exam will allow you to demonstrate your proficiency in a wide range of skills, and is the perfect choice if you prefer to perform both administrative and clinical functions. Since this is required of medical assistants in many small practices, it is a good choice if you plan to work in single-physician clinics.
American Medical Technologies Certification
American Medical Technologies (AMT) offers a number of certification exams, many of which will allow you to specialize in a particular area. Some of the specialty certifications they offer include:
- Phlebotomy Technician (RPT), a certification that will allow you to draw blood
- Dental Assistant (RDA), which could be useful if you prefer to work inside a dental clinic
- Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT), a credential that will open opportunities for employment in medical laboratories
- Medical Administrative Specialists (CMAS), a certification that is ideal for those wishing to become administrative medical assistants
AMT also offers its own medical assistant certification exam, which covers a wider range of topics and is similar to the test provided by the AAMA.
Requirements for Certification
To be eligible for the certification exam offered by the AAMA, you must first graduate from a training program that is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Your school should also be accredited by either the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
There are multiple paths to accreditation from AMT. In addition to graduating from an accredited training course, you can also become eligible through military training or on-the-job experience. If using military or on-the-job training to qualify, your experience must have been obtained fairly recently, and must be well documented.
The AAMA requires recertification every 60 months. To recertify, you may either retake the CMA exam or show proof you have completed the appropriate number of Continuing Education (CE) credits. A minimum number of credits in administrative, clinical and general areas of practice are required.
To maintain any certification through AMT, you must:
- Pay an annual fee to the organization
- Complete a Certification Continuation Program (CCP) every three years
- Abide by the agency’s Standards of Practice
How to Choose
Choosing between the different certifications can be difficult, particularly if you are not sure if you would like to specialize in a particular area. Many medical assistants initially take the CMA or RMA exam, and then become certified in an additional area after obtaining some work experience. This allows them to see where they best fit before spending an extensive amount of time studying for an exam.
The path to becoming a certified medical assistant begins with the right training program. Numerous programs exist that will help you prepare for one of the many certifying exams. To find the one that is right for you, please feel free to contact us.