You’re working your way to becoming a medical assistant (MA), and you’re pretty confused about whether you took the right path. On the other hand, you might still be debating which career path you want to take, and you’re just torn between a few options.
Well, there are quite a few benefits to pursuing this career. For instance, you’ll find a faster path to graduation and be financially well off. Moreover, you will be satisfied with meeting numerous people on the job, whether they’re medical personnel or patients.
This article will read all about the numerous reasons and benefits of becoming a certified medical assistant (CMA). While most states don’t require an official certificate to work as one, it’s often a better idea to go through the rigor of the CMA exam.
What is a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)?
A general medical assistant is often the medical personnel who comes into the room right before your doctor shows up. Simply put, an MA is someone who assists doctors in clinics and official medical offices. You’ll often meet them in examination rooms, and they’ll take your vitals, assess your symptoms, and check your height and weight.
So, how is a Certified Medical Assistant different? Well, the significant difference is the certification you’ll have in hand. While not necessary in most situations, it’s often an added bonus to have one. It’ll get you into more places and have you be recognized on both the national and international levels.
How can you become a CMA? The examination and the certification are under the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Usually, you won’t be able to acquire the certificate or even sit for the exam without prior education. This education often comes in a one or two-year medical assisting program.
CMA vs. RMA
CMA stands for Certified Medical Assistant, while RMA stands for Registered Medical Assistant. Essentially, they’re both the same as they require similar education, responsibilities, and fundamental training. Moreover, they both need you to take an accredited program.
Keep in mind that most states don’t usually require you to obtain either of these certificates. However, it generally is a good idea as you’ll be able to find better, high-earning jobs with proper credentials to your name.
However, as for the differences, they’re listed below:
- RMA is offered by the American Medical Technologists(AMT). The CMA is offered through the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).
- Requirements for RMA include being a recent graduate of an accredited program, completion of a course through the United States Armed Forces, more than five years of experience, or proof of having another medical assistant certification. As for the CMA, you must be a recent graduate or close to your graduation date in that program.
- The fee for the RMA is $100, while it varies between $120 and $250 for the CMA.
- The RMA includes 200 – 210 questions, while you’ll only find 200 on the CMA.
- You’ll have 3 hours to complete the questions for the RMA exam, while you only have 160 minutes to complete the CMA.
What Does a CMA Do?
There are various responsibilities that a CMA needs to uphold. However, they’ll mainly be working alongside doctors, healthcare professionals, and nurses to aid and assist in whatever tasks are at hand. These include any clinical duties required as well as administrative tasks.
There are no set tasks, as they often vary daily. Your job as a CMA could vary according to the organization you’re working under. For instance, your main job could include taking notes, appointments, and managing the administrative duties in one office. However, some places require you to take vitals, draw blood, take electrocardiograms, and even help through the checkups and routines.
Some general tasks you should expect to follow through with are:
- Asking for patients’ history, including their personal information, any previous illnesses, and family history
- Preparing samples for the lab and handling them
- Handling the appointments and scheduling of your clients and patients
- Measuring vital measurements, including blood pressure, blood sugar, height, weight, and temperature
- Assisting the doctor or the medical personnel, you’re working with through checkups, examinations, and tests
But how many hours does a medical assistant work a day? That varies greatly depending on your job requirements and the place you’re working at. For instance, some might require you to work for 8 hours a day, while some jobs are more hectic and can ask for up to 12-hour shifts.
And rest assured, the average salary of a certified medical assistant is at an average of $26,930, according to BLS in a report conducted in 2021. However, the 90th percentile has a salary that can go up to $50,580.
However, the average salary for a CMA is not entirely clear. For instance, PayScale states that the average salary for a CMA is $17.23, which pans out to be more than what BLS said.
Is Being a Certified Medical Assistant Worth It?
Depending on the type of person, being a certified medical assistant can be incredibly rewarding. You won’t have to go through the rush of running through a hospital, but you’ll enjoy meeting new people and doctors.
However, evaluating whether becoming a CMA would differ from one person to another. So, why become a certified medical assistant? The job market for medical assistants is increasingly growing and is expected to increase by 18% by 2030. That’s more than the average compared to other occupations.
Hence, if you’re generally worried about finding an open job position once you get your credentials, rest your mind. You’re more likely to find a rewarding place than numerous others.
Moreover, the requirements for becoming a certified medical assistant are pretty minimal. You’ll be able to receive your certificate after you complete an accredited program. Check with the Allied Health Education Programs or even the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools to find the best program for you.
Another reason being a certified medical assistant is worth it is because multiple programs are now being offered online. Hence, if you hate the hustle and bustle of going to programs, you’ll always have the option of online ones.
7 Benefits of Being a Certified Medical Assistant
While you will have to maintain your CMA certification, that’s worth it once you find its benefits. As for renewing your certificate, you can either submit 60 recertification continuing education units (CEUs) or resit for the examination.
All things aside, the benefits of being a medical assistant, certified that is, include the following 7 items:
Generally, employers prefer personnel who have nationally certified medical credentials. That’s because for numerous different reasons. For instance, healthcare providers can protect themselves from any possible malpractice lawsuits since they’ll be authorized to do the work.
It’s even expected that more states will start mandating credentials for medical assistants in the upcoming years. It simply is more convenient, as it minimizes the likelihood of facing legal complications.
Find More Job Positions
Consider this situation: you’re living in a state that does not require you to have a certificate to be a medical assistant. While that has its perks, being a CMA will leave you in higher regard. That’s because these states will acknowledge how serious you are about your career.
Chance to Work in a Hospital
More and more hospitals are increasing their minimum requirements for hiring medical personnel. Hence, they’re now looking for more nurses with bachelor’s degrees and certified medical assistants. This is all happening because of the need for more minor legal issues arising in the workplace.
According to BLS, certified assistant salaries are higher than those without certificates. While the difference might not be a preeminent one, it’s always enjoyable to have more financial stability with your job.
For example, CMAs in Washington get a higher average salary than medical assistants living in Alabama, who do not require certification.
Here is a list of states that require you to complete a program before becoming a medical assistant:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
If you get bored often, then rest assured that things get spiced up more when you’re a CMA. Since you have more opportunities, you can now choose between various positions. Instead of working in administration, you can choose to work in something much more lively. You can find a place with more patient interaction, a maternity ward, or even an emergency room.
To renew your certification, you need to continue studying through continuing education units (CEUs). Well, that provides you with ample resources that are sponsored by hiring institutions. That’s the equivalent of free education.
Respect Through Quality Training
Being a certified medical assistant means that everyone will be aware of your background in training. It reflects the high-quality training you’ve been through. Employees would much rather have someone who has been through the rigorous workload compared to someone with minimal to non-existent experience.
Is Becoming a CMA Right for Me?
Deciding on whether you want to become a CMA is quite simple. If you are willing to pay for the certification, you’re all set. However, evaluate if you wish to be in the medical field, if you are a people person and if working around people under some stress is something you can handle.
Moreover, evaluate your pros and cons. Some disadvantages of being a medical assistant include a less-than-ideal salary, taking specific programs to qualify, working around sick people, and unexpected hours.
Wrapping Things Up: 7 Reasons to Become a Certified Medical Assistant
Generally, things are pretty simple. If you plan to become a medical assistant, then aim to get a certified one. That will increase your overall chances and make you more eligible for jobs. However, deciding whether to become a medical assistant is generally a more difficult decision.
The simplest way to evaluate the right decision for you is by looking at all the pros and cons. If you’re willing to go through the education and the occasional stressful schedule, this job is more rewarding than you might think.