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What Accreditation Is Best for Medical Assisting?

In addition to a school’s institutional accreditation, their Medical Assistant program may have programmatic accreditation which may help with various certifications. By becoming certified, you demonstrate the proven skills employers are looking for. Credentials are offered by several agencies, each with different standards. Which certification you choose depends on your career aspirations.

What Accreditation is Best for Medical Assistants?

CMA accreditation through the American Association of Medical Assistants is widely recognized by employers and can make your resume stand out.

Their promise to you and potential employers is that CMA certification means you meet the highest standards as a medical assistant.

The test covers the most relevant and timely topics in the industry, including:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Infection control
  • Clinical and laboratory procedures
  • Patient privacy and safety concerns
  • Communication
  • Computer and software applications
  • Administrative protocols
  • Medical accounting
  • Coding and insurance practices
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Customer care principles

The AAMA works closely with healthcare facilities to update the exam as the need for specific knowledge or skills changes. This continual improvement process ensures that CMA certification remains pertinent. And because continuing education is required to maintain certification, your accreditation will remain as valuable in the future as it is today.

The test is challenging but fair. Students in good academic standing can apply for certification up to 30 days before they graduate. Administered in four, 40-minute segments, the test is fully computerized with no hands-on skills demonstrations required. You’ll answer 200 multiple-choice questions that evaluate your knowledge. A twenty-minute break is offered between each segment, but it’s not mandatory if you prefer to press on.

First-Time Success Rate

You’ll know if you passed or failed when the test is complete; the first-time success rate is 62%. Employers can verify your certification immediately, but it takes a few weeks for your official paperwork to arrive by mail. If you didn’t pass, don’t worry, consider it a learning experience. You’ll get a report that identifies your weak areas, so you can study and try again up to two more times.

CMA Renewals

CMA certificates must be renewed every five years by taking a recertification test or submitting continuing education credits. As a professional organization, the AAMA supports its members with a convenient e-Learning Center, seminars, and other educational opportunities. The largest and most comprehensive organization of its kind, they understand the learning and certification process because they helped develop it.

The Pioneers in Medical Assisting

Pioneers, the AAMA has been instrumental in creating education and competency standards. They designed and then administered the first Certified Medical Assistant exam in 1963. Today, they set curriculum guidelines for the more than 450 accredited MA programs in the US.

National Medical Assistants Day

And every third Wednesday in October, we celebrate National Medical Assistants Day thanks to the AAMA. So, whether you seek CMA accreditation or just join, becoming a member has perks. Few professions have gained credibility as quickly as medical assisting because of their efforts.

Two other certifications are popular among graduates, in part, because qualification criteria are sound but more flexible and somewhat less rigorous.

They are:

Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

The Registered Medical Assistant certificate is offered by American Medical Technologists (AMT). It’s an alternative pathway for students who were educated in the Armed Forces or who graduated from agency-approved but not yet accredited MA programs. Founded in 1939, AMT is a reputable and globally recognized agency.

The RMA exam is also computerized. Candidates have two hours to answer 210 multiple-choice questions in four categories:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Administrative responsibilities
  • Clinical procedures
  • Patient care protocols

Scores are available immediately, and you’ll receive official certification within 7-14 days. You can retake the test up to three times with a 45-day waiting period between each attempt.

To maintain your certification, you’ll pay a small yearly fee and submit continuing education credits every three years. Like the AAMA, AMT membership comes with benefits including networking and learning opportunities.

National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)

The NCMA certificate is offered by the National Center for Competency Testing — a fully accredited credentialing agency for medical assistants and other allied health professionals.

The NCMA exam consists of 150 questions in eight categories based on job surveys identifying competency expectations:

  • Pharmacology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Clinical procedures
  • General office procedures
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Insurance, billing, and financial management
  • Medical law and ethics
  • Office management

The test takes up to three hours, and results are immediate, the first-time pass rate in 2021 was 57%. Continuing education is required for annual recertification, but NCCT membership includes access to easy online learning modules. The process couldn’t be easier.

How to Prepare for Medical Assisting Accreditation?

A great way to prepare for accreditation is to graduate from a vocational school program. Even if you have experience, formal education explores challenging topics in-depth.

As with all healthcare professions, medical assisting evolves over time. So, schools work with employers to fine-tune their curriculum to keep pace with changes in the field. Better-educated candidates have the best chance of passing the test the first time. You’ll also gain priceless study and testing skills as you complete assignments and navigate exams. Just being in school makes you smarter.

You can also count on vocational schools for practical support. Knowing how important certification is, they prepare students for the certification exams. From day one, lessons cover exam topics.

Schools also encourage peers to help each other, promoting mentoring and study groups. Some also offer guided, pre-test crash courses, including application tips and test-taking strategies. Did you know that agencies offer accommodations for students with disabilities or test anxiety? Advisers can assist with requests.

Each credentialing agency also offers pre-test preparation handbooks with advice for testing success.

Final Thoughts

Industry certification is the gold standard for demonstrating competency and commitment. It can be the difference between getting just a job or getting the job of your dreams. So, while the AAMA, AMT, & NCCT are all dedicated to improving the work environment for healthcare professionals, one accreditation agency stands out for the extensive benefits it provides. For medical assistants, an AAMA certificate is as good value for your time and money.

Want to Learn More?

The Medical Assistant program at Hunter Business School prepares competent, entry-level medical assistants in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains required for professional practice. The Medical Assistant program provides hands-on experience in a real medical setting where you can foster professional relationships with actual patients. Medical Assistant students spend 160 hours in an externship in an actual medical environment where they are supervised and taught in order to gain valuable on-the-job training.

The Medical Assistant training program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, 9355 – 113th St. N, #7709 Seminole, FL 33775 upon the recommendation of the Medical Assisting Education Review Board (MAERB).

Contact us today to find out more on how to become a medical assistant on Long Island.