All professionals have associations that promote their occupation. Organizations like the American College of Physicians and Surgeons, for example, represents physicians in professional matters while serving as a resource for the medical community. Members of the allied health profession from radiological technicians to partitions have similar support groups. Medical assistants rely on the American Association of Medical Assistants.
What Is the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)?
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) is the nation’s first and only association dedicated exclusively to the advancement of medical assisting. Formally established in 1956, they support medical assistants and the medical community. How Does the AAMA Help the Healthcare Community?
Education standards are critical within the healthcare community. But before 1956, medical assisting was a loosely organized profession. Termed general assistants, their skills couldn’t be clearly defined. Employers couldn’t be certain that medical assistants were properly trained because there were no objective criteria. The AAMA changed that, working with educators and state regulators to develop professional standards and certification criteria.
Today, the AAMA’s mission is to certify knowledgeable, highly skilled medical assistants who can confidently support healthcare facilities. By 1966, they’d established the curriculum standards now used by accrediting agencies to certify training curricula countrywide. Three decades later, the US boasts many accredited medical assisting programs thanks to their leadership.
AAMA-Certified Medical Assistants are not only well-educated, but they’re also bound by the organization’s code of ethics. They promise to:
- Provide respectful care to all patients
- Protect confidential information
- Hold their profession in high regard and represent it well
- Continue to learn, improving their skills for the benefit of patients, employers, and colleagues
- Participate in activities that improve their communities
AAMA-certified medical assistants are true professionals in every sense.
As the healthcare community grows, roles for medical assistants are expanding beyond the traditional. Fixtures in private practices since the 1950s, they’re now employed in hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16 percent increase in demand for medical assistants through 2031, so training and support are imperative. The AAMA is responding to the challenge through recruiting efforts, establishing standards for continuing education that ensure certification remains relevant year after year. For the healthcare community, AAMA support is meaningful.
How Does the AAMA Help Medical Assistants?
The AAMA supports medical assistants through:
Without experience, how can new medical assistants compete with seasoned professionals? How do they convince the best employers that they can handle the job? AAMA certification is the key.
Employers know that association-approved programs teach the required skills, and if graduates pass, they’re well-prepared for entry-level positions. Certification shines on a resume because it demonstrates proven skills and commitment to the field. As a prospective employee, you’ll be a good investment.
Forget the want ads, many jobs are found through networking. As an AAMA member, you’ll have regular opportunities to meet other medical assistants who may be aware of employment opportunities. You can connect with peers at local events and chapter meetings.
Medical assistants are versatile support specialists. Allied health professionals, they deserve recognition for their many skills. The AAMA is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil on your behalf by educating employers about your competencies. They underscore your value as an asset and not an afterthought.
Continuing education helps medical assistants keep pace with developments in their field. The AAMA offers a wealth of learning opportunities through its publications, seminars, and classes. They’ve developed an extensive e-learning center with the courses you need to maintain your certification. And if you’re passionate about a specific aspect of medicine, you can obtain specialty certifications in geriatrics, pediatrics, and allied health education to name a few.
Certification and continuing education are integral to professional growth. The AAMA helps you climb the career ladder.
States regulate most healthcare professionals. Regulatory boards establish education requirements and determine the scope of practice. A healthcare worker’s value is in part determined by how much they can do. So, AAMA representatives go to bat for their members by working with officials to increase their responsibilities.
They take an active role in how the profession develops in each state, pushing for the broadest scope of practice possible. The more medical assistants can do, the more places they can be employed and the brighter their future.
How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)?
Some medical assistants have degrees, but most get vocational school diplomas. Full-time students can complete a comprehensive, lifestyle-friendly training program in as little as 7 months attending full-time at Hunter Business School.
But while graduating makes you a medical assistant, only certification through the AAMA makes you a CMA. The next logical step in your career, becoming certified demonstrates proven skills that give you an edge in a competitive field.
Several organizations certify medical assistants, but AAMA certification is the most widely recognized. Employers know that CMAs are well-trained and work ready.
What does it take to become certified? A diploma from a CAAHEP-accredited school qualifies you to sit for the exam. Pass it and you’re certified. A CAAHEP-accredited curriculum covers what you need to know. The good news is that Hunter Business School’s Medical Assistant Program is accredited by the CAAHEP.
Who Accredits the Medical Assistant Programs?
Accreditation is a way to evaluate the quality of schools and their educational programs. The curriculum is measured against professional standards to ensure that students get the training they deserve. Before accreditation processes were developed, too many schools let students down, taking their tuition money without preparing them for jobs.
Accreditation in the healthcare disciplines also plays a critical public health role. In addition to certification and licensure, it ensures that medical workers are qualified for their positions.
There are two accrediting agencies for medical assisting programs, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). The US Department of Education recognizes both, but there’s a noteworthy difference between the two organizations.
CAAHEP accredits programs, not institutions. ABHES evaluates schools rather than individual curricula.
Programs accredited by CAAHEPS meet more rigorous curriculum standards, but institutions may offer fewer on-campus services. What does this mean for medical assistants? Either accreditation means students qualify for federal financial aid because they’ll get a top-quality education. However, CAAHEP certified schools have more flexibility to meet the needs of adult learners, most of whom live off-campus. It’s everything students need but nothing that they don’t.
How Does the CAAHEP Evaluate a Medical Assistant Program?
Institutions submit a request for program accreditation.
Schools complete a self-study report to ensure that they meet accreditation standards. This triggers a review.
Reports are reviewed and approved or clarified through dialogue with the school before a visit is planned.
CAAHEP representatives visit the institution to verify the report. They review the curriculum and tour the facilities, interviewing students, graduates, faculty, and administrators.
CAAHEP reviews its findings and issues a compliance report with an action plan if schools didn’t make the grade.
Representatives assess the institution’s response to feedback. Did they make the required changes?
CAAHEPs recommends approval, denial or probation based on the program’s compliance with accreditation standards. Programs can then choose to continue the process or withdraw their accreditation request.
After a final review, the CAAHEP Board of Directors approves or declines accreditation.
Accredited programs are subject to ongoing review to ensure that the curriculum remains strong. The goal? To give students a quality education that meets professional standards and employer expectations.
One of the largest accrediting bodies in the US, CAAHEP has accredited more than 2,500 training programs across 32 health professions and is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Nationally recognized and respected, CAAHEP-accredited medical assisting programs give students the skills they need to succeed.
Membership in a professional association distinguishes a job from a career. A partnership among those who want to better their world by advancing their field, it’s a means of mutual support and a way of giving back to the community. For medical assistants, the AAMA has and always will help make that possible.
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).