How to Become an Administrative Medical Assistant?
Administrative medical assistants play a vital role in a healthcare facility as they are responsible for organization and coordination in the workplace. They work to keep all the technical matters in order to make the lives of physicians and patients more favorable. To become an administrative medical assistant, you must either pursue post-secondary education by enrolling yourself in a medical administrative assistant training program or gain work experience as an administrative MA under the supervision of an authorized physician.
After taking the education or the work experience route, you must take and pass the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) certification exam accredited by the National Healthcare Association (NHA) to get certified for better job prospects.
What is an Administrative Medical Assistant?
Medical administrative assistants are also known as medical office secretaries. Administrative medical assistants perform organizational tasks such as scheduling appointments and maintaining patient records in a clinic or any medical office. They are the first ones to interact with patients, and it’s their job to greet with utmost respect and hospitality. They perform clerical duties such as answering phone calls, preparing patient charts, medical billing, etc.
Are Medical Administrative Assistants the Same as Medical Office Assistants?
Medical administrative assistants are also recognized as medical office assistants. They are required to manage their respective medical office by performing duties such as scanning documents, operating medical software for recording the medical history of a patient and determining insurance eligibility, and then processing insurance billing while considering all the insurance protocols and regulations.
Medical office assistants have a proper understanding of medical terminology and specific technical devices and software. They also have a good sense of communication as they have to interact with anxious, nervous, and distressed patients in order to make them feel more relaxed and secure as a part of their job. In conclusion, medical administrative assistants or medical office assistants have conventional ‘desk jobs’ with certain clinical responsibilities and are also an integral part of the healthcare system.
How Long is Schooling?
To become a medical administrative assistant, you may need to obtain specified education qualifications, such as pursuing a degree in medical assisting. The medical assisting training program will make you eligible to take certification exams like CMAA. By taking and passing the CMAA certification exam, you will become a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant.
Associate, diploma, and certificate medical assisting programs are available throughout the country. Associate programs are more detailed than the other two and have an extensive curriculum. It can take almost two years to complete the program. Apart from the theory part, the curriculum also requires students to take an externship to get hands-on clinical experience under the supervision of a recognized physician. The externship is mostly unpaid and requires approximately 200 credit hours to complete.
On the other hand, diploma and certificate programs have similar coursework, and both can be completed in a year or less. A diploma program is more in-depth and articulated than the certification. Some diploma students may also have to complete an internship as a part of the program. Particular diploma and certificate programs offer specific training in administrative and clinical medical assisting, and the respective graduates may be eligible to work either as an administrative medical assistant or a clinical medical assistant.
Administrative Medical Assistant Certification
To get certified as a medical administrative assistant, you must obtain the CMAA credential accredited by the NHA. All the NHA certifications are accredited by The National Commissions for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). To get the CMAA credential, you will have to follow some essential steps.
Firstly, you have to check your eligibility to take the examination. After being eligible, you must prepare for the test by referring to exam preparation material. You must also create a candidate profile on the NHA website so that you can register yourself and schedule the exam. After scheduling your exam on a suitable date, you must take and pass the exam to obtain the CMAA certification.
The exam consists of 110 questions. An examination fee of $117 must be paid for an exam attempt. The final score report is posted on the candidate’s NHA account. The scores can range from 200 to 500 and requires a candidate to meet the passing score of 390 or more in order to pass the examination. If a candidate does not pass the exam on their first attempt, they are allowed to retake the exam after 30 days waiting period. Candidates will then have three attempts to successfully pass the exam with 30 days waiting period between each examination attempt.
The CMAA certification is valid for two years and will expire on the date provided on the certificate. Recertification of the credential must be done every two years by completing a minimum of 10 continuing education credits and submitting a recertification fee.
5 Reasons to Become an Administrative Medical Assistant
An administrative medical assistant is indeed a satisfying and rewarding profession. It also has a lot of perks. The following are the five primary reasons to become an administrative assistant.
- Job security: As the baby boomer population increases, there is an increase in illness and health issues, thus the demand for more medical professionals increases, which includes medical administrative assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be an approximately 18% increase in job growth from 2020-2030 for medical assistants, which leads to more job opportunities.
- Programs are effective: Many medical administrative assistant training programs offered by accredited schools provide placement and counseling services for students that will guarantee you job security. These programs are quick and require less time for completion, as compared to the training programs of other medical professions.
- A role with non-clinical responsibilities: The Administrative Medical Assistant job profile requires mainly administrative and organizational tasks to be performed. If MAs don’t have the knack for drawing blood and administering injections but have a keen interest in pursuing medical assisting and managing the medical office, then this is the right job for you.
- Advanced technology: The ever-expanding horizons of technology have provided us with cures and solutions. With this new technology and newly discovered medicines for various diagnosed illnesses, more clinics and healthcare facilities will need administrative MAs to run these healthcare offices effectively.
- Getting certified: Being certified as CMAA has its benefits. Certified medical administrative assistants will be benefited by higher pay and more preference by employers. It also provides you skills that are necessary to perform specific tasks.
- The insurance benefit: A lot of employers are providing their medical assistants a package with appealing salary and insurance benefits such as medical and dental covers. This makes the job more worthy.
What are the Education and Training Requirements?
Education: To be eligible to sit for the CMAA (NHA) certification exam, the candidate must possess a high school diploma or GED or an official transcript stating equivalent education. The candidate must also acquire post-secondary education in medical assisting. Candidate must successfully complete a medical assisting training program offered by an accredited or state-recognized institution within the past 5 years. Candidate providing service in the military must complete the formal medical services training provided by any branch of the U.S Military training.
On Job Training: The candidate must be a high school graduate or must have a transcript reflecting an equivalent education. Candidate must have at least 1 year of work experience under the supervision of a recognized physician in medical assisting within the past 3 years.
Certification Exam: In order to take the CMAA certification exam, a candidate must check the eligibility criteria and analyze it. Then, the candidate must create a candidate account on the NHA website. If the aspirant is prepared to take the exam, then they must register or schedule it using the account. He/she must also go through the attestations agreement and check whether they agree and attest to meet the eligibility requirements.
Skills Required to Become an Administrative Medical Assistant
An administrative medical assistant works efficiently to sustain a proper balance in their work environment. The skills that make an excellent administrative assistant are varied. Some skills are gained or acquired by training or developed over time, and some are ingrained within. The following are some required skills to become an administrative MA:
- Organizational skills: A large part of the job profile demands administrative MAs to organize and manage the medical office effectively.
- Communication skills: Administrative MAs are required to communicate with distressed patients on a day to day basis. They must also comprehend the physician’s orders and respond well. They will also have to attend phone calls and answer emails; hence good communication skills are much needed.
- Technological skills: An administrative medical assistant must have knowledge about current technology trends and must also know to use software for billing and coding, recording medical histories, etc.
- Being able to respect privacy: Administrative MAs have access to patients’ health information and are responsible for maintaining their confidentiality and privacy.
- Being timely: The work ethic of an administrative medical assistant must be time-oriented. The healthcare field can’t afford to be laid back as a lot of lives are at That’s why administrative MAs must be skilled in time management.
What is the Difference Between Administrative Medical Assistant and Medical Assistant?
|Medical Assistant||Administrative Medical Assistant|
|Job roles||Both administrative and clinical||Primarily administrative|
|Certification exam||CMA (AAMA), RMA (AMT)||CMAA (NHA)|
|Eligibility||Must have a high school diploma and a medical assisting degree (Associate/Diploma/Certificate) to become certified||Must have a high school diploma and a medical assisting degree (Associate/Diploma/Certificate) within the past 5 years to be certified|
|Recertification requirements||Every 60 months||Every 2 years|
|Continuing education requirements||30 CE points||10 CE points|
|Estimated salary||$39,477 per annum||$37,450 per annum|
Common Job Duties of an Administrative Medical Assistant: What do they do?
Healthcare centers are not always pleasant. The facility is filled with patients, injuries, strong smell of phenyl, and let’s face it that a lot of lives are at stake. While doctors are occupied saving lives, the whole responsibility of running a medical office smoothly falls on the shoulders of administrative medical assistants. They have to be organized, do the technical work such as billing and coding, and also be warm towards patients at all times. Some job duties of an administrative MA are mentioned below:
- Using medical billing and coding to translate medical records into codes and then using these codes to bill insurance companies
- Implementing insurance protocols to determine eligibility
- Managing digital patient records using software
- Greeting patients with hospitality
- Answering phone calls and mails
- Ordering medical supplies
Job Growth and Prospects
Administrative medical assistants perform clerical job duties, and they mainly work in clinics, hospitals, and other medical offices. The job growth of this profession has been predicted to increase by 23% from 2018 to 2028. The potential job growth is considered much faster than the average for all occupations.
This elevation in the employment statistics of administrative medical assistants is due to the growth of the aging baby boomer population and their demand for preventive medical care. Therefore, more physicians and healthcare centers will employ administrative medical assistants to support them by performing organizational tasks.
It is stated that medical assistants with proper post-secondary education in medical assisting and accredited certification will have better job prospects.
Administrative MAs are skilled in performing clerical and administrative tasks. Their work is technology-based, and they often have training in medical billing and coding, EHR (Electronic Health Records), EMR (Electronic Medical Records), etc. These individuals are hired by various facilities or organizations such as hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, medical billing companies, and medical transcription companies.
How Much Does an Administrative Medical Assistant Make?
|Industries||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|Offices of Optometrists||$16.70||$34,730|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$21.23||$44,160|
|Medical Insurance Companies||$20.58||$42,800|
The CMAA credential is valid for 2 years, and it expires on the date mentioned on the certificate. Recertification is a process to keep the credential going by fulfilling the continuing education requirements every couple of years. The professionals are required to complete 10 continuing education credit points, which can be acquired through the NHA program or other outside education programs or institutions.
Certificants are responsible for obtaining a certificate of completion or other equivalent documents from each continuing education course that has been attended. Also, they must submit official documents verifying the completion of 10 continuing credit points, along with a $169 recertification fee.
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.