Is becoming a medical assistant right for me?
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How to become a Medical Assistant
To become a medical assistant, you can follow these general steps:
- Education: While formal education is not always required, completing a postsecondary program in clinical medical assisting can provide a solid foundation of knowledge and skills. Look for programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). These programs typically lasts around one year, and offer a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical training, covering topics such as medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, medical office procedures, and clinical skills.
- Certification: While certification is not mandatory, it can enhance job prospects and demonstrate your competency as a medical assistant (see below). To earn certifications, you must pass an exam that assesses your knowledge and skills in various areas of medical assisting.
- Clinical Experience: Gain practical experience through an externship or internship program. These opportunities provide hands-on training in real healthcare settings and allow you to apply the knowledge and skills learned in your medical assisting program.
- Job Search and Networking: Begin your job search by exploring employment opportunities in healthcare facilities, clinics, hospitals, and physician offices. Utilize job boards, career fairs, and professional networking to connect with potential employers and healthcare professionals in the field.
- Continuing Education: Stay updated with advancements in medical assisting and healthcare by engaging in continuing education. Attend workshops, conferences, and online courses to expand your knowledge and skills and maintain your certification.
In the US, there are two widely recognized certifications for medical assistants:
- Certified Medical Assistant (CMA): Offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), the CMA certification is one of the most recognized certifications for medical assistants. To be eligible for the CMA certification, you must graduate from a medical assisting program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). After graduation, you can take the CMA exam, which assesses your knowledge and skills in various areas of medical assisting, including clinical, administrative, and general medical knowledge.
- Registered Medical Assistant (RMA): Offered by American Medical Technologists (AMT), the RMA certification is another respected certification for medical assistants. To be eligible for the RMA certification, you must complete a medical assisting program from an institution recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Additionally, you must pass the RMA exam, which evaluates your knowledge in areas such as patient care, office administrative procedures, medical terminology, and healthcare laws and ethics.