What are the challenges in becoming a certified medical assistant? There are always a lot of concerns attached to choosing a career, so it’s important to do the right amount of research beforehand to avoid regretting your decision later on.
You need to know things like what types of schools you can get into, what the certified medical assistant job description consists of and how much a CMA makes. It’s also important to assess your personal strengths and weaknesses to ensure this is the right type of work for you so you can save time and money by not entering the wrong field. Learn everything you need to know to give yourself peace of mind and confidence to move forward with your plans.
How Can I Be Sure this Career is Right for me?
Working as a certified medical administrative assistant is not for everyone, because it will pull you in many different directions throughout the course of your day. You will be working long hours under the supervision of a physician, and be required to take on physical and emotional challenges, like helping patients and providing comfort and support.
You will need to be patient, have good communication skills and be able to handle all sorts of people and conditions. If you are capable of multitasking and enjoy a diversity of tasks in a high paced environment, then it might be suitable for you and be worth learning more about.
Is Starting My Medical Career as a Certified Medical Assistant Worth it?
Within the field of nursing, there are many levels you can reach, but they mostly require time consuming and expensive training. Instead starting out as a certified medical assistant could be the best idea for you because with less than a year of training, you can begin a career in entry level nursing, but then have the opportunity to get hands on work experience to decide if it’s worth it for you to pursue training to move up the ranks.
A CMA is known as the heartbeat of a hospital, with your hands in such a wide variety of duties that you will feel fulfilled at the end of the day, and the exposure and practice you get in this role will only better prepare you for any advancement you may consider in the future, so if you want to join nursing, it is the best place to start.
What Kind of Schools Offer the Best Programs?
How to become a certified medical assistant is the first piece of information you need to find. The best thing about working in this position is that formal training beyond having a high school diploma is not required in every state, however, although there is always a demand for medical professionals, competition is still high for the existing medical assistant jobs, so having at least a 1 year certificate behind you is becoming the norm.
Community colleges, vocational schools and even online schools offer 1 year certificate courses ranging around $2500-$4000 or 2 year associate’s degrees that will average around $5000. You will get training in physiology, anatomy, medical vocabulary, recordkeeping, accounting, lab techniques, administering medications and diagnostic procedures.
There are about 350 medical assistant programs across the country that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which is an advantage since they will most likely include an internship, giving you the clinical experience you need. If you don’t have an internship offered, you should try to obtain hospital volunteer work to get the hands-on exposure you need.
What Will I Be Expected to Do on the Job?
The job description of a certified medical assistant can cross many areas. You will have both administrative duties and practical ones, ranging from updating patient charts, taking vital signs, educating patients, preparing them for treatments, and helping doctors conduct exams.
Furthermore, you will be responsible for taking samples for lab work, sterilizing equipment, and depending on the requirements in each state, you could also take on additional duties like administering medication, instructing patients on proper diets, taking blood samples and suturing. There is a great range of tasks to handle, which is why the right training and amount of clinical practice beforehand is essential in easing you into the work.
Is Certification Necessary or Can I Work Without it?
Nationally registered medical assistant schools will make you eligible to sit your national certified medical assistant exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or Association of Medical Technologists (AMT), but certification is not required to work in this position. Non certified medical assistants can find work, but they will not get the same opportunities as certified workers.
Having passed your licensing exam proves your capabilities and highlights your training and competence on the job, and it can boost your resume by opening more doors for you as well as giving you a higher medical assistant salary capacity, with an average range of about $25,000.
Taking the national exam will cost about $170-250, and there is also the opportunity to get a specialized certification in areas like podiatry or optometry. You will need to go through certificate verification every 5 years in order to renew it.
How Can I Be Sure to Pass the Licensing Exam?
In order to ensure success on your national exam, you should prepare in advance by take sample exam questions online. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) website offers practice tests that take you through the same format and content that you will experience on your actual test.
The website offers this service for free and consists of 50 anatomy and physiology questions as well as a medical terminology section. Additionally, you can find many textbooks that you can buy that will contain similar style exam questions so that come exam time, you feel calm and prepared.
Is Becoming an RMA the same as a CMA?
An RMA is actually a registered medical assistant, a certification offered by the AMT (American Medical Technologists), accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, and although the job duties are essentially the same as for a CMA, it doesn’t certify you to do the work; it simply registers you in the field.
Also, although in most states both RMAs and CMAs are equally accepted, in some places like Southern California, only CMA qualifications are accepted. Be sure to look into the demands of the state you choose to work in to ensure you have the proper medical assistant training.
What Kind of Work Environment Can I Expect?
Of course hospitals offer an array of jobs for CMAs but the majority of work can be found in private offices and clinics. The environment will be very fast paced and can be hectic, so you need to be prepared for anything to be thrown at you, but the pace can be exhilarating and will never be dull or tedious.
A typical full time week is about 40 hours, but part time and evening shifts are also available for those who need more flexibility, or if you decide to keep studying while working. Your work space will always be clean and bright, but be prepared to handle stressful situations, be on the move and keep a friendly face to handle anyone who crosses your path. With this knowledge in advance, your launch into being a certified medical assistant will be painless.