As the profession grows and as more and more physicians and hospitals are depending on medical assistants, it becomes more and more necessary to have formal accreditation in order to get a job in the field. The most common form of accreditation comes from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). If you pass their accreditation standards, you will be able to say that you are a certified medical assistant or CMA (AAMA).
Medical assistant certification can take some time and involves some formal education, but is a fairly straightforward process. First, you need to find out whether or not you are eligible to apply for a certification. In order to be so eligible, you must meet all of the following conditions:
1. You must have graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES certified medical assisting program: The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) each certify training programs in many different schools. There are a number of such programs available at community colleges all around the United States, but you should check in advance whether the program has been certified. Note that the AAMA allows no exceptions to this rule. If you have not graduated from a CAAHEP or ABHES certified program, you are not eligible to take the exam and cannot get your medical assistant certification.
2. You may not have been convicted of a felony: If you have been convicted of a felony, you are not eligible to write the CMA exam. However, unlike the first condition, the AAMA does make exceptions based on the type of felony, character references, length of time since the conviction and so forth. If you have been convicted of a felony, you should check with the AAMA about the possibility of a waiver of this condition before spending a lot of money on medical assistant training. For more information, call their certification department at 312-424-3100.
3. You must recertify every five years: Because medical information is constantly changing, it is important to recertify on a regular basis. The AAMA has decided that this should be every five years. Therefore, it is important to schedule a recertification exam before your five years are up, or else you might find yourself temporarily uncertified.
The next step in medical assistant certification is to take the actual exam from the AAMA. The fee for this test is $250, but is $125 if you have graduated from a medical assistance program in the last twelve months (or will be graduating in the next 30 days). Because of the high demand, you should send in your application at least three-and-a-half months in advance of the exam date, as the AAMA does not guarantee a seat at the exam unless your application arrives at least three months in advance.
Once you’ve passed the exam, you simply need to apply for AAMA membership, and you will officially have your medical assistant certification. You may at that point write “CMA (AAMA)” after your name, and a wide range of newly available job opportunities will be waiting for you. Good luck!