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certified medical assistant
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How to be a certified medical assistant

A certified medical assistant is a health care worker whose job involves performing administrative and clinical tasks to support the work of doctors and other health professionals. Measuring a patient’s vital signs, administering injections and medication, recording information in medical recording systems, collecting and preparing specimens of bodily fluids and tissues for laboratory testing and preparing and handling medical instruments and supplies are some of the tasks they perform.

The International Standard Classification of Occupations demands that a certified medical assistant have formal training in health services provision. This formal education can be acquired in postsecondary institutions like vocational schools, community colleges, proprietary colleges or technical institutes. The certification or registration requirements vary from country to country. In United States the institute you choose for your medical assistant training program must be accredited by the Commission on Accredit ion of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.

Certified Medical Assistant Exam: What you need to do

Many people are opting to train to become a certified medical assistant. It is one of the fastest growing careers these days. It takes only 6 to 12 months to train to get your certification and once you have your certification, the pay scale is quite good. Getting your certification will give you an edge over uncertified colleagues and provide you with better job security. You don’t have to worry if you are not able to opt for full time schooling. You can also choose to go for part time schooling, distance education or online education.

certified medical assistant

Once the coursework is completed you will graduate. But to classify as a certified medical assistant you will have to take a test that the American Association of Medical Assistants administers. This CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) exam is conducted only three times a year so you must apply for access to it well in advance. The final step to getting your certification is practical experience. This means you must spend the required hours in a doctor’s office or a hospital. This is basically unpaid on site practical work experience done in a recognized health care setting. It must be done under the supervision of a registered nurse or doctor. The best part is that there is no age limit to achieve your certification.

If you are serious about getting your certification you must be thorough and meticulous in your research.

  1. First of all, you must study the eligibility criteria to appear for this exam and figure out whether you qualify or not.
  2. The next step would be to enroll a recognized medical assistance program and complete your coursework. Most of these programs will give you theoretical as well as practical training in a variety of subjects like human anatomy, physiology and pathology, coding and record keeping, basics of accounting, the terminology of medical science, laboratory practices, pharmacology, first aid treatment, following medical laws and ethics, etc.
  3. You will have to complete the required hands on training that has been mentioned in the above paragraph.
  4. You then apply for the certification exam. You will have to fill the application form, submit the required documents and the enrollment fee. The enrollment fee is about $250.00. But if you are member of AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants) or a CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) or ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools) completing students or recent graduates get a 50% rebate on their enrollment fee. The enrollment fee is $250.00 and it is non refundable and non transferable.
  5. Once you application has been accepted you will receive a scheduling permit three weeks before the examination start date. The permit has instructions on how to make an appointment at the Prometric center in your vicinity. The exam can be taken anytime during the running year.

Once you have passed your certification exam you achieve your CMA credential. You are then eligible to put your CMA credential on your resume and can use this to apply for a job anywhere in the country. A lot of new research and studies come up over the years and as a healthcare worker it is your duty towards your patients to stay on top of these updates. Therefore, a CMA must recertify his/her credentials every five years. This can be done in two ways -

1. You can take and exam or

2. You can opt for ongoing education.

Certified Medical Assistant Practice Test - Helping you prepare for the real thing

Being a certified medical assistant gives you an edge over those people who are applying for the same jobs as you, but without a certificate. But the exam that you have to take to get your certification requires careful preparation. It is a good idea to take some practice tests before you appear for the actual exam. There are a couple of benefits in doing this. The first and foremost is that you will get an idea of how much you know and what are the areas you need to concentrate on. You will also get a guideline of the type of questions that are asked in the exam. You must have knowledge of patient care, record keeping, basic medical information and laboratory procedures and protocol. The practice test helps you increase your confidence as well.

You should review the online examination content that is available on the AAMA website. Then attempt the 50 question anatomy and physiology practice exam. You will also find a medical terminology practice test on the website. Another thing that will help you tremendously is buying a review book that contains practice tests, questions and exam taking strategies. Besides the AAMA website you can find practice tests online on other websites as well.

Certified Medical Assistants Schools - Know your options

There are various schools offering medical assisting programs. The first thing you would need to check is whether the program is accredited - approved by CAAHEP or ABHES. Once you select a school you should visit its website. Alternatively you could contact the program director. The most relevant questions that you should ask are the academic pre qualifications and duration of the program, the content of the program and the practicum and the tuition costs and financial aid options. The size of the class also matters. You should also check the possibility of internships.

The best way to find the programs in your area is to search on the internet. There are several websites that give you a complete listing of hundreds of institutes nationwide. Another factor you need to consider is your schedule. If you are a full time student then you won’t face a problem. But if you trying to get your certification while you hold a job you must check the timings of the classes and see if you can arrange your schedule accordingly. There are several schools offering evening classes or distance education programs.

Certified Medical Assistant Programs Online - Flexible hours to accommodate your schedule.

If you are keen on obtaining your medical assistant certification but have to consider your existing job or a family, you don’t have to give up your dream. You can opt for an online program. Many programs do not require you to visit the campus at all. In some programs you may have to go to the campus occasionally. A recent study has shown that students completing their requirements online are doing just as well, if not better, as students who attend classes. You can get a list of online programs from the internet. Choose an institute that is nearby if you are required to visit the campus. If you don’t have that requirement you can choose a school anywhere in the country. Some schools offering an online program are Keiser University eCampus Online, Kaplan University, Ashworth College (Canada) and U.S. Career Online. Kaplan University has centers in many states.

Certified Medical Assistant Pay - What you can earn

The demand for CMAs has increased greatly in the last couple of years. Some of the reasons for this are increase in diseases of the heart, diabetes, obesity, ageing population, etc. This has caused an increase in the number of clinics and thus a higher requirement for trainer personnel. The pay scale of a certified medical assistant varies greatly according to the city and state, years of experience, etc. One research shows that a CMA can earn between $11 to $15 per hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average yearly income of a certified medical assistant ranges from $28,000 to $40,000. There is a high job security and job satisfaction as you are helping to improve the heath of another individual.

Certified Medical Assistant Careers - Know your professional scope

As mentioned above, the requirement for certified medical assistants has grown greatly in the past couple of years. Every state and city needs health care providers, clinics and hospitals. This increases the need for CMAs. To get a better idea of your job opportunities you can visit websites like jobs or monster. You will also find that the job options for certified medical assistants is far greater than for people who are non certified. This is a challenging profession and requires a lot of dedication and responsibility. Your patients will be looking up to you for good health care. But the personal and financial satisfaction is very high. As there is continuous development and expansion in the healthcare industry, the job security and demand for certified medical assistants in quite high.


If you are serious about a career as a certified medical assistant then be sure to plan properly and research thoroughly. Choose a good and accredited program and be meticulous in your preparations for the exam. Study hard and gain as much knowledge as you can. This will help you fulfill your responsibilities towards your patients in a proper manner.

 certified medical assistant