Becoming a medical assistant is a rewarding career choice for those looking to get started in healthcare. As a medical assistant, you may advance your role by earning professional certification and becoming a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). Learn more below!
If you have been thinking about a career in healthcare, but do not wish to spend many years in medical school, you may be considering other options. One of the best (and fastest) ways to break into the medical field is by becoming a medical assistant. This is an important role and offers plenty of reward and work-life balance. As you consider a medical assisting career, you may want to learn more about these benefits and how to become certified in the field.
Medical assistants, also known as clinical assistants, are vital members of a healthcare team. These dedicated professionals ensure that healthcare facilities operate smoothly and patients are satisfied with their visits. Medical assistants are often seen greeting patients, scheduling appointments, recording and updating medical records, and gathering and organizing medical supplies. To start in this role, you must start with an education. To advance in this role, you may consider the various medical assistant certifications available.
Start with an Education
Before you set out to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) or a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), you should start with a medical assistant training program. Medical assistants perform both administrative and clinical tasks, supporting physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff. While medical assistants conduct much of the front-of-house operations, they also help prepare patients for exams, take vitals, and explain procedures to patients. It is important, therefore, to have preparation on both sides before stepping into this role.
Requirements for medical assistants vary from state to state. While the State of Connecticut has no official education or certification requirements for medical assistants, many employers today require these professionals to obtain training and certification. There are different paths to take, depending on the title you are looking to acquire. Read on, as we break down the steps needed in order to become a credentialed professional in this specialty.
How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
The first step to take in becoming a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) is with an accredited medical assisting program. This type of postsecondary program will ensure you have the administrative, clinical, and tactical skills needed to be successful in a medical assisting position, and will qualify you to take the CMA certification examination.
A certificate in medical assisting is the fastest educational route, which can be completed in as little as 12 months. At Goodwin, students enrolled in this program have the option to continue to earn an associate degree in medical assisting, which can be completed in 16-20 months’ time. While not always required, you may come across more job opportunities or higher earning potential with a medical assistant degree.
Upon completion of either program, you will be qualified – and ready – to take the CMA (AAMA) examination, which is administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). This credential represents world-class certification for medical assistants and is recognized by healthcare employers around the world.
The exam is rigorous and tests aspiring CMAs’ knowledge of:
- Healthcare delivery
- Health information management
- Patient intake
- Safety and infection control
- Medical insurance
- And more
In order to sit for the CMA (AAMA) exam, you must be able to show that you have graduated from an accredited medical assisting program, approved by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
How to Become a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
The Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential is administered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Much like the CMA credential, RMA is recognized by allied healthcare employers across the United States. There are several different paths to become eligible for the RMA credential, but completing a postsecondary medical assistant program is the standard.
In order to become eligible for the RMA certification exam, you can take one of the following paths:
- Graduate from an accredited medical assisting program within the past four years.
- Graduate from a formal medical assistant training program of the US Armed Forces.
- Work experience. Work as a medical assistant for at least five of the past seven years, fulfilling both administrative and clinical duties.
- Work as a medical assistant educator for at least five years and have previously completed a course in a healthcare related subject.
Any of these paths will help you on your way to becoming a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA). The RMA credential provides assurance to potential employers that medical assistants possess the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in this ever-changing field.
A Bright Future as a CMA or RMA
Healthcare has been, and continues to be, among the fastest-growing and in-demand industries today. Between the growing, aging population of Baby Boomers, to the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, we need well-trained health professionals now more than ever before.
Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow rapidly over the next several years. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects to see a 19 percent growth from now until 2029 – much faster than the average for all occupations. Those with professional credentials, whether CMA or RMA, beside their name are bound to have stronger job opportunities. In fact, according to the BLS, “Medical assistants are expected to have good job prospects; however, those who earn certification and have familiarity with electronic health records (EHRs) may have better job prospects.”
Becoming a Certified or Registered Medical Assistant is a smart move for anyone who wants to break into the booming healthcare field without spending many years in medical school. The future is bright for those who choose to pursue a postsecondary degree or certificate in medical assisting. The only question left is, are you ready to start?
If you want to jumpstart your career as a medical assistant, contact Goodwin University. Call us at 800-889-3292 or visit us online to request more information.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.