Medical Assistant Education Requirements
If you're interested in becoming a medical assistant, you'll need to be prepared for a rigorous educational experience. Aside from having no prior professional training and holding only a high school diploma or GED, there are also state-specific certification requirements that must be met before one can take the state's licensing exam. These vary by jurisdiction, but most require 1-2 years of postsecondary education at an accredited program as well as passing the National Medical Assisting Board (NMAB) Certified Medical Assistance (CMA) exam.
Due to the rigors involved with earning this credential, many aspiring medical assistants choose to pursue their degree full time on campus or through distance learning programs offered online by schools such as SOCHi.
Some schools even offer accelerated programs designed specifically for those with previous healthcare experience who want to become certified medical assistants quickly so they can start working right away upon graduation.
Medical Assistant Certification
Certification is the process of obtaining a credential, which can be in the form of a card or certificate. It can also be an educational achievement. In the case of medical assistants, certification is becoming increasingly common. You can choose to become certified through either professional organizations or state-sponsored licensing boards (which are often called "certification boards").
Certification means that you have successfully completed a certain amount of training and/or testing and passed an exam related to your profession—in this case, as a medical assistant. You may even get additional certifications after passing your first one!
When you receive certification credentials from professional associations like the American Medical Technologists (AMT) or American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), for example, those credentials will help potential employers know that you've proven yourself capable in your field by passing their tests. Your employer will likely recognize these certifications because they're well-known across all industries today: many companies require their employees' licenses or certifications before hiring them at all!
What Does a Medical Assistant Do?
- Medical assistants perform a variety of duties under the supervision of a physician. They are trained to perform basic patient care functions, such as vital signs, phlebotomy (drawing blood), and electrocardiograms.
- Medical assistants work in a variety of clinical settings. They can work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, physicians' offices and even nursing homes where they aid patients with their day-to-day needs.*
- Medical assistants work with a wide range of patients—from those who aren't feeling well to those who are very ill or injured.*
- The job also involves using various types of equipment including X-ray machines and electrocardiogram monitors.*
How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?
If you're looking to become a certified medical assistant (CMA), the first step is to enroll in a CMA program. While becoming certified is not required by law, it will open doors for you as far as job prospects go. The AAMA notes that 91 percent of employers surveyed by their association say they prefer candidates who are certified as CMA's over those who aren't.* This indicates that being certified may help you qualify for better jobs and earn higher paychecks than those without certifications.*
Once your education is complete, it's time to take your next step: passing an examination administered by the AAMA called the Certified Medical Assistant Examination (CMAA). The CMAA consists of 100 multiple-choice questions related to medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, patient care skills and other areas relevant for medical assistants.* It also includes questions about OSHA safety standards; HIPAA privacy rules; professionalism standards; drug dosage calculations; basic math computations such as fractions; basic reading comprehension skills including sentence structure analysis; punctuation marks identification; spelling proficiency etcetera.*