Things to Know About MA Certification

medical assistants

When discussing certification for Medical Assistants, it's important to first distinguish between the different types of certification.

There's the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), which corresponds to a Medical Assistant who has been licensed by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants. The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) is a credential offered by a different organization known as the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Good idea for Medical Assistants to get certified

Both the CMA and RMA are optional, nationalized - that is, both exams are offered throughout the U.S. - certifications for the Medical Assistant career.

"Today, most Medical Assistants are able to secure employment without a certification," said Shalon Bess-Orr, Medical Assistant/Medical Office Administration Program Director at Concorde's campus in Miramar, Fla.

But that might not always be the case.

"Due to the Meaningful Use Act and all the changes within the health care system, employers are now making it a requirement," said Bess-Orr, "and taking that extra step to become certified ensures that the MA is well-trained and credentialed."

"That's very attractive to prospective employers and can impact salary negotiations and outcomes."

Other certifications for Medical Assistants

Bess-Orr said Concorde Career Institute - Miramar is credentialed with the National Center for Competency Testing, American Medical Technologist and National Health Career Association. Other certifying agencies include the American Association of Medical Assistants and the National Certification Career Association.

In addition, Medical Assistants can obtain certifications in disciplines such as Phlebotomy Technician, EKG Technician, Electronic Health Records Specialist, and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant.

"Attaining additional certifications to go along with the CMA, such as the phlebotomy and EKG technician indicates that the individual has a specialization in those areas which increases their marketability overall," Bess-Orr said.

What do we do to prepare students for certification?

Training for certification begins with learning correct medical terminology, according to Tracy Baldomino, Medical Assistant and Medical Office Administration Program Director at Concordes Kansas City, Mo. campus.

"Having that knowledge as a foundation will help the students define and understand any term in any question they would have that pertains to the body, tests for diseases or procedures to treat patients," Baldomino said. "We provide students with study material, websites in which they can take practice tests and inform them of places where they can purchase extra study material, whether that be online or in bookstores. As a college, we also hold review sessions before the exam."

What do students need to know going into exams?

Baldomino said the CMA exam consists of 200 questions.

"Those questions change at random...," she said. "Therefore, they need to study everything they've learned in school. The minimum grade to pass is 70 percent, which means they can miss up to 60 questions and still pass. They'll have a maximum of two hours to take the test, and they'll know their grade immediately after they finish."

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