25 Common Questions & Answers People Ask About Medical Assistant Career

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A medical assistant career has been garnering lots of hype over the past few years. This is quite understandable, as the medical and healthcare industries are rapidly seeing a rise in desirability and investment. That is why we have answered a few common questions that people frequently ask about the medical assistant career.

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Is medical assisting the right career choice?

Absolutely, a career in medical assistant and allied health services is a great option to go with professionally. It allows you to hone in on multiple skill sets and job satisfaction which is unparalleled. There are many different areas in this career path to explore, and the compensation is a healthy amount.


Do medical assistants have to clean poop?

Medical assistants do have a rather varied job description based on the specialization that they choose to follow. However, cleaning poop, vomit, or urine in a medical assistantship is not something that you need to be worried about. Even in emergency cases, healthcare facilities usually have people assigned to cleaning tasks.


Who is paid more: medical assistant or CNA?

It is widely known that medical assistants are compensated at a much higher rate than CNA. Medical assistants, since 2021, have been paid almost $18 per hour as per BLS reports, while CNAs are paid $16 per hour. Although the rates may fluctuate, medical assistants are always paid more than CNAs, as the demand for medical assistants is much higher than that of CNAs.


Do hospitals hire medical assistants?

It is mandatory for all hospitals in the US to hire medical assistants. In fact, at least one medical assistant is always available on hand in whichever hospital you go to. They are essential because medical assistants are the first line of interaction between patients with doctors and/or registered nurses.


Do medical assistants draw blood?

No. Medical assistants are rarely required to draw blood. For a medical assistant to draw blood, they need to be qualified to do so. If you have gone through a traditional medical assistantship degree, you do not have the specific qualification needed to engage in such a task.


What is the hardest thing about being a medical assistant?

Although medical assistants have a given routine throughout their workdays, sudden shifts in planning can cause difficulties for them. It is the most challenging thing about being a medical assistant, as unexpected emergencies on the administrative or clinical side can upend their entire day. However, this does not happen often, if at all.


Does a medical assistant give shots?

The short answer is yes. Medical assistants are required to administer shots as and when needed. However, there are restrictions in terms of giving shots as they cannot administer anesthetic shots. Medical assistants can only give shots if they have been verified beforehand, and the shots can be intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intradermal.


Can a medical assistant work in labor and delivery?

Yes, medical assistants can be required to work in labor and delivery. However, it may not be as hands-on as you might expect. Basically, medical assistants who work in obstetrics and gynecology departments must deal with the official work that comes with labor and delivery issues. They can work on the documents and verification of details.


How many hours a day does a medical assistant work?

In the US, the limit on medical assistant working hours is 40 hours a week. If the workdays are 6 days in a week, that puts the daily workday slightly over 6 hours a day. Nonetheless, if there are clinical emergencies or emergencies related to administration, then the working hours can become flexible, depending on the situation.


What tasks can a medical assistant not perform?

Medical assistants usually have specialized tasks that they can do, based on their qualifications and experiences. However, they cannot perform invasive procedures such as working with needles or infusion tubes connected to IVs. They also cannot perform telephone triages without supervision. They are also not allowed to use the catheter tubes unless supervised by licensed physicians.


What do medical assistants do in the OB/GYN department?

Out of the many specializations that a medical assistant can do, OB/GYN is one. In this department, they are expected to be the ones who interact with the patients before their procedures. They run the patient through the procedural process and tell them what to take care of, what they are supposed to do before and after the operation.


Which states pay the most to medical assistants?

Although medical assistants are in high demand in the US, their pay scale does vary in different states, based on their demand, qualification, and experience. As per BLS 2021, Washington pays the most to its medical assistants, with them earning around $47,320 annually. It is followed by District of Columbia and Alaska, with $46,690 and $46,390, respectively.


Is a medical assistant and nurse the same thing?

No, they are not. Nursing jobs tend to be more hands-on and require a lot of interaction with the patients in terms of moving them, assisting them in their tasks, and even bathing them. These are more physical jobs. Medical assistants, on the other hand, are more likely to work on the administrative side of things rather than the clinical side.


Can I assist in surgeries as a medical assistant?

Actually, you can. Medical assistants are often present in the operating room as they are required to help in a myriad of ways when asked to do so. It could mean handing over or using equipment when needed or repositioning the patient when needed. After the operation is over, they also have to sterilize the equipment.


Can medical assistants be IV qualified?

No, medical assistants cannot be IV qualified. In terms of more details, medical assistants can be trained to provide IV therapy. However, they cannot receive an IV certification. To be IV certified, a person has to pass a national-level exam. Moreover, unlicensed medical personnel cannot take the exam. Nonetheless, actual IV administration does not require certification.


Are medical assistants and clinical medical assistants the same?

They are very similar, but they do differ in some aspects. Basically, a certified clinical medical assistant gets their certification from NHA (National Healthcare Association). Certified medical assistants, however, get their certification from AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants). Both these positions work with the physician and patients in different ways, with the medical assistant position being more patient-oriented than the CMA.


What are the different levels of medical assistants?

There are mainly 3 broad categories of medical assistants, Certified Medical Assistant, Administrative Medical Assistant, and Clinical Medical Assistant. They all work with physicians and patients in different measures and have varied specializations, with each having its department. Some may need to be more technology-oriented, while others have to manage administrative and clerical work.


Which MA certification is the best?

Although these are subjective and can depend on the factors of demand, the most popular MA certification in the US now is Certified Medical Assistant or CMA provided by AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistant). It is closely followed by Registered Medical Assistant or RMA provided by AMT (American Medical Technologists). The National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) and Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) are also suitable certifications.


Which certification test is harder – CMA or RMA?

Both of these certification tests are national-level exams. One of the main differences between the two tests is that the CMA certification test is a bit longer. That is why this test is perceived to be a bit more complicated than the RMA certification test. The CMA certification lasts for 5 years, after which it requires renewal, whereas the RMA certification lasts for 3 years.


What happens if you fail the CMA exam thrice?

The CMA exam does not have any limits on the number of times you can take it. The problem is that the exam is of a national level and is difficult to pass. Most people need more than one attempt to pass the exam. You can give it in testing windows at specific times.


Can you become a CMA online?

You can use materials online to help you in becoming a CMA and passing the national-level exam. However, the exam has testing windows at specific times throughout the year. You need to register yourself for the certification examination, after which you can give the test at Prometric Testing Centers in your local area. You cannot sit for the exam online at your own home.


After how long does the medical assistant certification expire?

The medical assistant certification typically expires after 3 to 5 years. The exam itself is held by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) throughout the year, as well as other relevant certification bodies like American Medical Technologists (AMT). After a 5-year period, you must take the exam and pass it to continue working as a medical assistant.


How do I clear the CMA exam on the first attempt?

The CMA exam is a national-level exam, which is of a longer duration than an RMA exam and requires a lot of effort to pass. The exam itself has only a 45% pass percentage of candidates. However, this does not mean that it cannot be cleared in the first attempt. You need to learn your study patterns and be clear with concepts.


How many hours to study for the CMA exam?

It is recommended that you study for about 150 hours each for a part of the exam. If you study daily for 8-10 hours, you can cover the entire course for the exam within 4 months. It is a rough metric for average learners, and you can change according to your ability.


Is training compulsory for medical assistant certification?

Considering the skill sets needed for a medical assistant, the certification requires that every student goes through a strict and well-structured training program. This training usually occurs in the CMA final semester. However, if you have had prior clinical experience and want to exempt yourself, there are ways to do that as well.

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Written by : Casey Gardner

Casey Gardner is both a healthcare support professional and an accomplished content creator.  She has been working as a certified health care professional with marketable skills as a physician assistant,  and a qualified medical assistant for last two decades. She has dedicated her nursing career to produce over hundreds of content pieces since 2001, and her work has been published both online as well as offline.


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