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CERTIFIED MEDICAL ASSISTANT
Most states place few, if any, regulations on who can be a medical assistant and you don’t need to be licensed, like nurses, to work in a particular state. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to get an education in the field. There are a few educational options available for medical assistants and they can lead to national professional certification once you graduate.
You will not be required by the state to pass the certification examination, but professional certification does tell potential employers that you’re committed to being the best at your chosen career field. Once you pass the exam administered by the you can add the initials CMA—which stands for Certified Medical Assistant—to your resume, which will show employers that not only have you completed a fully-accredited college program, but that you passed the rigorous professional examination.
Why Become Certified as a Medical Assistant?
Professional certification is proof that you are a dedicated and qualified medical assistant. This can be very important when you are first starting out in the field. When you are new, you won’t have much experience to add to your resume, but demonstrating your determination through formal training and examinations will put you ahead of the pack when it comes to finding a job in a hospital or doctor’s office.
Steps to Becoming Certified
The first step is to be certain that you really want to be a medical assistant. You must be able to multi-task, have no fear of blood, and possess better than average communication skills. If you like science, medicine, working in a laboratory, and performing minor procedures on patients, you could be a good fit for the career.
Once you know that being a medical assistant is for you, you will need to find a program that will prepare you for the field. Here, you’ll need to make a few decisions. First, you will need to decide whether you want an online or traditional learning environment. Both offer benefits, so find out what is available in your local area and by researching schools on our website. You might be able to take a hybrid program—that is, most of your courses online and more clinical, hands on courses in a classroom.
You will also want to decide whether to pursue a one-year certificate program or a two-year associate’s degree. Both should be accredited, but whichever you choose should fit your personal circumstances. Things to consider are do you need to enter the field quickly? How far up the career ladder do you want to go?
With a two-year degree program, you can build on your education later on and you’ll have a head start o a bachelor’s degree with the credits you earn in your associate’s degree program.
No matter which environment or program type you select, make sure that the program is fully accredited. Look for a program that is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). These agencies audit medical assisting programs to make certain that they meet certain standards and offer high quality education that stays abreast of changes in this fast-growing area of healthcare.
Completing your program will enable you to schedule a time to sit for the professional examination, but you will need to gather your transcripts and pay a fee to be eligible to take the test. You can find an application for the exam on the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) website.
The AAMA website also has plenty of resources available to help you study for the exam. Note that the AAMA is a professional association that you might consider joining for the various benefits membership offers. For example, if you are a member, your exam fee will be cut in half. You’ll also find news about conferences and have the opportunity to network with other professionals in the field.
Prepare for the Exam
The AAMA website offers resources to help you study for the exam, and even has practice tests to give you a sense of the exam. There are also exam preparation services available online. You could also ask your college medical assisting program whether they offer any study sessions. In lieu of these options, you could seek out practicing medical assistants who also want to prepare for the examination and would be interested in forming a structured study group.
CMA credentials will be helpful to you as you start your career, as they can enhance your resume and give you confidence as you do your job. If you want to become a medical assistant, research accredited school programs now. Once you graduate, consider getting professions certification credentials and earn the respect of your peers.