The medical field is expanding and becoming more specialized. Advancements in healthcare, technology and legislation has increased the demand for people who are knowledgeable about healthcare and medical systems. Once, a medical assistant was only found in certain places, such as clinics and other care facilities. Now, medical assistants are everywhere in the health field. With that expansion of their presence, there’s also been a large expansion of their duties. The growing demand coupled with the growing public interest in healthcare has led a lot of people to want to train for and become certified medical assistants. But the path isn’t always easy. It’s hard work becoming certified, but it’s hard work becoming a medical assistant to begin with.
What is a medical assistant?
Even with the growing job duties, a medical assistant is, essentially, trained medical personnel that assists in the ongoing functions of any healthcare environment. Depending on the place, the duties of the medical assistant can vary greatly. In some places, the medical assistant will perform clerical duties and bookkeeping. In another place, the medical assistant may have to deal more closely with patients. Really, it’s best to think of a medical assistant as an extra set of hands in whichever healthcare environment they happen to be in. They can be called on to do both small and large tasks, from filling forms to assisting a physician during a surgery.
What is a Certified Medical Assistant?
Not all medical assistants are certified, but there’s an increasing demand from healthcare facilities for certified medical assistants. Certification shows that a medical assistant has gone through the training necessary to meet the demands of the American Association of Medical Assistants. It shows that the medical assistant has reached for and attained one of the highest standards in their field. The Certified Medical Assistant is considered the best of the best of medical assistants. As such, the CMA will likely have greater employment opportunities open to them.
According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, the Occupational Analysis of the CMA includes:
However, the path to certification isn’t an easy one. To become eligible for the exam, the applicant has to already have gone through an accredited medical assisting program. The accreditation for that program must come from either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). These accredited programs help to make sure that the applicant has the correct knowledge needed to take the Certificate Examination. The eligibility requirements of the exam allow for recent graduates, as well as those close to graduating, to take the test.
The Certificate Examination
The examination will test applicants in three areas.
• General medical knowledge
• Administrative knowledge
• Clinical knowledge
The parts of the exam correspond with what the AAMA believes to be the medical assistant’s core duties.
Other forms of certification
Remember that it’s not absolutely necessary for someone to get certification before going into the medical assistant field. It helps, and it’s certainly a goal that all medical assistants should strive for. There are other certifications as well, such as the RMA or Registered Medical Assistant through the American Medical Technologists. There is also the NCMA, National Certified Medical Assistant, which comes from an independent organization the National Center for Competency Testing. Sometimes a particular certification may be necessary for a particular job. But on the whole, the Certified Medical Assistant is the most prestigious designation out there. All types of accreditation are voluntary, but they do go towards improving the occupational outlook for medical assistants.
Both the CMA and RMA have expiration dates, so medical assistants who do obtain them must remain vigilant and recertify at the appropriate times.
Certified Medical Assistant Salary
A Certified Medical Assistant earns up to of $50,000.
Interested in becoming a medical assistant?
Becoming a medical assistant is a career path full of challenge and reward. The healthcare landscape is changing and so is the overall position of the medical assistant. Those interested in becoming a medical assistant should take accredited courses or programs. Those that would like to become certified need to make sure that the courses or programs they take will directly facilitate that process.