There’s no denying that the world’s population is aging. One 2013 study puts the number of 55-65+ year-olds as accounting for more than 16% of our global residents. That means the demand for health care will rise dramatically in the coming years. Getting a medical assistant certification now will therefore ideally position anyone looking for a bright career full of future prospects in the not too distant future!
With a rising aging population has come a dramatic decline in the number of qualified nursing staff. As a result, physicians, podiatrists, doctors, chiropractors and other health-care practitioners all across the country are seeking alternate skill sets to assist them in delivering the required level-of-care to their patients. And the natural choice is an assistant who is certified to practice.
What is a Certified Medical Assistant?
So who exactly is a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), and what does medical assistant certification online enable them to do? Well, as the name implies, they assist in a “medical setting”. Depending on the needs of a health-care facility they are employed by, and the training they received, an individual Medical Assistant can perform a host of duties that make a doctor’s life easier. And such duties can be restricted to Front Office roles, Back Office duties or may include a combination of both.
As a Front Office supporter, a medical assisting certification allows qualified staff to wear the hat of a Receptionist, an Office Administrator, an Appointment Scheduler or the physician’s Personal Assistant when it comes to managing meetings with pharmaceutical medical representatives. They are also trained to call in prescriptions, maintain patient files (both electronic and paper formats) and order and organize medical supplies for the facility.
In the capacity of a Back Office support worker, a medical assistant certificate will often guide a patient into the examination rooms, take their medical histories, and record their vitals. They can even conduct screening interviews to determine why a patient needs to meet with the medical practitioner. Depending on their training, they may even perform oral swabs, take samples and prepare specimen and paperwork for laboratory tests. All of this saves the medical practitioner a lot of precious time, which is instead used to consult with and treat patients.
How to Get Medical Assistant Certification
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the demand for medical administrative assistant certification to grow by 31% through to 2020. That’s a much more rapid growth rate than the average. No prescribed educational prerequisites exist, but if you have a high school diploma (ideally, though not necessarily having studied biology, anatomy and chemistry), you are well positioned to enter the field.
Many vocational institutions and community colleges offer programs that prepare students, for a year-long Certificate program, or two years for an Associate Degree, for careers as Medical Assistants. The exact curriculum of these studies differs, but students learn everything they need to prepare for the next step – getting the CMA designation!
Certified Medical Assistant Certification
There is no requirement for an individual to have certification for medical assistant in order to practice as a Medical Assistant. However, most employers prefer staff that is certified. Individuals often learn on-the-job by working as “non Certified” support workers, learning from physicians and doctors, or from other senior certified staff at the facility.
Medical assisting certificate is conferred through the CMA designation offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), and may be earned through e-Learning, Self-study or in-class sessions offered either directly by AAMA or through partner/affiliate organizations. Some organizations may have pre-requisite educational requirements, such as a relevant Certificate, Diploma or Degree, for joining their program. Interested candidates must then register for, and pass, the CMA examination in order to claim the honor of being certified.
Registered Medical Assistant Certification
Several other options for medical assistant certification also exist, including the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) designation conferred by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Similar to CMA, aspiring medical support workers must undergo a prescribed course of studies, and then take an exam to receive the RMA designation.
One point to note however is that there is no qualitative distinction between being a Registered or a Certified Medical Assistant. Both designations require students to demonstrate the same amount of knowledge and expertise before the registering/certification body confers the designation. In the end, it is the hiring entity (Physicians practice, Nursing Home, Chiropractor) who may decide which designation/s they prefer, though both are equally valuable.