10 Reasons to Get Certified In Medical Assisting
Some states allow people to work as medical assistants without any formal education, training or certification. So why have millions of people opted to earn certification in medical assisting? Here are the top 10 reasons.
1. Certification may be required to work as a medical assistant
Many states allow people to practice as medical assistants without first earning certification. Alabama, Alaska and Hawaii require only that a person complete high school or a GED. Other states, such as South Dakota and Washington, require certification to work as a medical assistant.
2. Employers prefer to hire certified medical assistants over those who are not certified
Many employers, including hospitals, universities, doctor offices and extended care facilities prefer hiring candidates that have completed formal training, such as from a medical assistant school, and who are certified. Competition for these jobs is quite fierce – even getting an interview in some institutions can be difficult. Certified applicants typically enjoy preferential treatment when it comes to interviews and positions.
3. Certification ensures knowledge and skill
Certification in medical assisting ensures the individual has received an education that holds up to the standards of the field. To provide adequate care to patients that may be seriously ill, medical assistants must possess a wide range of clinical, medical, and administrative competencies.
These skills may include:
- Measuring and recording vital signs
- Procedures for collecting specimens and performing laboratory tests
- Diagnostic techniques
- Preparation and administration of different medications, including oral, topical, and rectal drugs
- CPR and First Aid
- Technology applications
- Fundamentals of recordkeeping and accounting
- Medical billing and coding procedures for insurance purposes
- Office administration and management basics
- Patient relationship-building strategies
- Medical law and ethics
4. Certification reflects the quality of your training
Several organizations offer certification in medical assisting, and each has different requirements when it comes to formal training. The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential is widely regarded as the gold standard when it comes to medical assistant credentials. In order to qualify for the CMA exam, applicants must complete a one-year certificate/diploma program or a two-year associate program accredited by one of the two following organizations:
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
To ensure applicants have the knowledge and skills necessary to work as medical assistants, ABHES and CAAHEP have strict standards for training programs. For recognition by either certifying organization, training programs must cover a number of core subjects, including:
- Human anatomy, physiology, and pathology
- Basic medical terminology
- Computer skills, including keyboarding proficiency
- Record keeping and accounting
- Office practices
- Laboratory techniques
- Basic clinical and diagnostic procedures
- Medication administration
- First aid
- Coding and insurance processing
- Medical law and ethics
- Patient relations
5. Excellent pay in relation to education
The median annual wage for medical assistants was $33,796 in January 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which works out to $16 per hour. This is excellent pay for a position that requires only one to two years of education; some programs take only months to complete.
6. Higher pay than for non-certified medical assistants
Medical assistants in states that require certification often enjoy better wages than do those in states that do not require certification. CMAs in the State of Washington earn more money than do those in Alabama, for example, according to BLS. Institutions may also be more likely to pay CMAs more than they pay medical assistants who are not certified. Certification may even help you achieve merit raises more consistently.
7. Certification shows you are serious about providing quality care
Certification shows that you take your job as a medical assistant seriously. Because gaining certification is elective in many states, certification demonstrates a medical assistant’s dedication to excellence. Patients who are struggling with a serious illness or injury in the hospital or in a nursing home rely on the professional care provided by nursing assistants, and certification shows that you take this responsibility seriously.
8. Better choice in shifts
Medical assisting is usually shift work, as patients need care at all times of day and night. Many institutions prefer to hire certified medical assistants to work the day shift, when most patients undergo testing, have an appointment with a doctor, go to therapy, receive medications and perform activities of daily living, such as eating and bathing. Certified medical assistants have the training to perform many advanced procedures that typically happen during the day shift.
Of course, if you prefer working evenings or nights, your certification will likely help you land a position during those shifts. Many institutions struggle to keep enough registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) on the evening and night shifts, and therefore rely on highly skilled certified medical assistants to provide care.
9. The opportunity to take part in continuing education
To maintain their certification, CMAs must recertify every five years. Recertification requires acquiring continuing education units, or CEUs. The AAMA requires each CMA to gain at least 60 “recertification points” by taking classes in administrative, clinical and general care areas. This requirement helps CMAs stay current in their field. Many of the continuing education classes are sponsored by the hiring institution, which amounts to a free education for certified medical assistants.
Medical assistants often work alongside highly educated medical professionals. Certification helps medical assistants gain the respect of their co-workers.
There are so many reasons to get certified or registered in medical assisting and almost no reasons to avoid certification. If you are a medical assistant and want to further your career without going back to school, consider certification.