Joycelyn Ghansah is a former Healthcare Organizer with a background public health, include reproductive and sexual health. When she's not freelance writing, she's transcribing interviews and researching ways to strengthen healthcare labor laws.
Are you interested in becoming a certified medical assistant but don’t know where to start? Do you have questions about programs, courses, and the certified medical assistant exam (CMA)? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Taking steps to become a certified assistant doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are two questions you should ask yourself before you being looking into programs and trainings.
A career as a medical assistant may be right for you if you’re interested in both the medical and administrative side of healthcare. As a medical assistant, you assist physicians and healthcare staff in providing quality health care for patients and their guardians. Medical assistants are the first contact patients have during their visit, helping them with insurance, billing, collecting their labs, and administering their medication.
It depends. While you don’t need a certification to become a medical assistant, having a certificate or associate degree offers more job opportunities and higher pay. Employers are more likely to hire individuals who are certified medical assistants. You can still become a medical assistant without certification, but you must understand medical terminology plus years of medical and healthcare experience.
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) you might have about becoming a certified medical assistant.
What is the first thing you do when you realize you’re interested in becoming a certified medical assistant? You research schools!
Most certified medical assistant programs can be completed in one or two years. You learn medical terminology, medical laws, first aid procedures, and much more. Some programs include an intern or externship to help individuals gain hands-on experience.
Note: As COVID-19 continues, most assistant duties are shifting to telemedicine, so we are listing online school options in this FAQ
We’ve listed three online options, but there are many more online and in-person certified medical assistant programs out there. Be sure to research each school and select the right one for you. Before choosing a program, ask yourself:
The Certified Medical Assistant exam or CMA (AAMA) is an exam taken by medical assistants who have completed medical assistant focused courses and programs. You must meet specific eligibility requirements before sitting for the exam.
It’s a fully computerized test with 200 questions, multiple-choice questions(75%), and two essays style questions (25%). There’s a 15 minute tutorial in the beginning. You have 3 hours and 15 minutes to answer every question. The exam is divided into four 40 minute segments:
You need a 430 or more to pass. If you fail, you have 90 days to retake the exam without retaking.
Note: The exam cost between $125-250.
There are a variety of skills needed to become a certified medical assistant. Being organized is essential to the role of medical assistants.
On the clinical side, medical assistants must have a basic understanding of safety and sanitation procedures, medical terminology, anatomy, and essential clinical works, i.e., drawing blood, dressing wounds.
As a certified medical assistant, you’ll work with physicians, healthcare staff, outside vendors, patients, and guardians to communicate and connect with diverse individuals is vital. Many healthcare practices are using Electronic Health Records (EHR), so having a basic understanding of electronic systems is important.
Becoming a certified medical assistant doesn’t stop at the CMA. As a certified medical assistant, you are certified and work in various specialties. Whether you’re interested in oncology, pediatrics, general, or orthopedics, there’s a certification for it.
Basic certified medical assistant certifications
Note: Remember to research each medical field and specialty and learn more about each specialty, programs, and departments
Having a certification as a medical assistant increases your pay. On average, certified medical assistants make $18.72 an hour or $34,474. Your salary depends on your experience, location, work setting, and certifications.
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