How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant
Why research how to become a certified medical assistant? Because it’s good career sense. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, certified medical assistants will have better employment opportunities in the future than that of their non-certified counterparts. Your medical assistant certification tells employers that you meet all of the professional requirements for medical assisting and that they can hire you with complete confidence.
The most well-known medical assistant certification comes from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). This is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) designation.
Getting Started on Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
Here are the steps to learning how to become a Certified Medical Assistant:
1. Medical Assistant Training
Your first step in figuring out how to become a Certified Medical Assistant is to go to an accredited medical assistant school and receiving formal training in medical assisting. This will take anywhere from 9 months to 2 years, depending on whether you enroll in a medical assistant certificate program, diploma program, or a degree program. It is important that the school be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
It is also required that you complete an externship as part of the program, since real-world work experience is needed for certification.
2. Apply for AAMA Certification
Applying for certification is probably the simplest step, as the application form can be downloaded from the AAMA website.
Your CMA application must be mailed around three and a half months before your planned testing date, and the application fee is $125 for graduates of training programs accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES. Graduates of programs not accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES pay $250.
3. Prepare for the Certification Exam
The AAMA administers a medical assistant certification test as part of the certification process. As of April of 2009, you can take this certification exam throughout the year.
But before you take this examination, you must study. The certification exam covers a wide variety of subjects that include lab procedures, medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology, and the best way to pass it is to take advantage of the study resources provided by the AAMA.
To prepare for the certification exam, the AAMA recommends that you:
- Obtain and review medical assisting journals
- Study content outlines
- Take an exam review course
- Take practice exams
The AAMA provides these and other resources to help you to pass the certification exam on their website. Exam review courses can be found by requesting information from medical assistant schools. See more information on the medical assistant certification test itself.
4. Becoming Certified
After you have passed the certification exam, the AAMA will send your certification card in the mail. Congratulations, you have officially figured out how to become a certified medical assistant!
Why is Becoming Certified Important?
Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) demonstrates to employers and to the general dental and medical communities that you have the requisite training, knowledge, and skills that you need to become a medical assistant. Taking this step is an advantage in the job market not only for the expertise it represents, but also because many employers only hire Certified Medical Assistants.