Medical Assistants Guide

Medical Assistants, or simple MAs, carry out all the clinical and administrative tasks to keep the offices of physicians, chiropractors and other health practitioners running smoothly. Their duties usually depend upon the practitioner’s specialty and location of practice. Usually in small practices, assistants perform different kinds of tasks which include both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to the physician, office manager or other health practitioner. In large practices, they usually specialize in one specific area under the supervision of administrators of the department.

MAs usually come under the below three categories




Training and specialization:

Though there is no formal educational requirement, most of them have at least a high school diploma. Some of them are trained on the job, but more than 90% of them complete 1 to 2 year program before applying for a job.

MA trainings are offered in junior colleges, vocational technical high schools, community colleges and post secondary vocational schools.

Once you have completed a diploma or associates degree in medical-assistant and before you rush out to apply for a job in your new field, consider getting a certification first. Although it is not compulsory, certification indicates that you have met the standards of knowledge.

What is medical assistant certification?

MA certification is an exam conducted by American Association for Medical Assistants (AAMA). If a the applicant has passed the certification exam, then he/she will be called as Certified medical-assistant (CMA).

To be eligible to apply for a certification exam, the applicant should have completed a medical-assistant degree from an accredited school and should have completed an externship.

Benefits of Certification:

Though it is not mandatory that a MA has to be certified by AAMA, but more and more employers these days have been preferring certified MA’s. Certification will help in identifying the well trained or experienced assistant from an entry level assistant. The MA certification will definitely help in getting good salary as the latest report from state that certified MAs are paid 3 cents more per hour than their counter parts and more job opportunities due to the fact that employers trust in them because they are certified by AAMA.

How to get started:

American Association for Medical Assistants has set some standards which all the MAs have to follow if they wish to be certified. Only those MAs who hold a graduation certificate from a medical-assistant school accredited by Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) are eligible to apply for certification examination. So, before registering for a MA training program, check whether the school is accredited by any of the two bodies – ABHES or CAAHEP.

How to Get Certified?

There are two steps that you should follow in order to get certified by AAMA

Study: AAMA expects the applicants to be familiar with medical terminology, physiology, anatomy and lab procedures. Complete knowledge on these topics is necessary to pass the certification exam. It advises the applicants to review these subjects in medical-assisting publications. You can contact AAMA for more information on study aid.

Apply for the certification examination: Certification is a continuous program and MAs can apply for the certification examination throughout the year. If you are a member of AAMA or a CCAHEP or ABHES completing student or recent graduate, the fee is $125. All the others have to pay a fee of $250. All the fees will be non refundable. Once your application is approved, AAMA will send you further instructions about examination schedule.