Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)

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How to Become a Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants are proficient in performing administrative and clinical duties in a healthcare center. They are responsible for maintaining an efficient balance in the workplace. National Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) is a credential accredited by National Association for Health Professionals (NAHP) and is provided to qualified medical assistants. The professionals, who are keen to acquire the NRCMA designation, must pass the examination with a score of 70% and meet the required eligibility criteria.

What is a Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant?

Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) is a generally recognized designation that is offered to medical assistants. NAHP provides the NRCMA credential to medical assistants who are proficient in handling administrative and clinical tasks. The NRCMA examination tests the capabilities of a candidate in the medical assisting field.

In order to become an NRCMA, the candidate must fulfill certain eligibility requirements. NRCMAs are employed in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, outpatient care centers, rehabilitation centers, etc. and they perform front office as well as patient care duties. They also assist their respective supervisors/physicians in clinical procedures.

How to Get Certified as NRCMA?

Applicants who wish to certify as an NRCMA must meet the eligibility requirements to take and pass the NRCMA exam. Applicants must successfully complete a medical assisting training program or have work experience in the medical assisting field. Only after fulfilling the eligibility criteria, an applicant may apply for the certification.

To apply for the NRCMA examination, applicants must register at the NAHP website and submit the required documentation and appropriate fees. Documentations that are needed to be submitted must be within 10 years of the candidate’s application date. The certification exam is conducted by both computer-based and traditional means; the candidate must schedule the exam accordingly. Preparing for the exam by getting familiar with exam content and format is highly essential.

Candidates must follow all the necessary instructions and procedures before taking the scheduled NRCMA exam at the provided testing center. The exam score results will be received immediately after the computer-based exam by the candidates. In contrast, the results of the traditional (pencil-paper) exam will be issued approximately after 4 weeks.

Individuals who have successfully passed the exam will receive their certifications specifying they have been awarded the NRCMA designation. Candidates who have been unsuccessful at their first attempt may retake the examination after a waiting period of a minimum of 10 days.

Benefits of NRCMA Certification

The NRCMA certification represents high standards in the medical assisting field. The professionals who have earned the NAHP designation are considered valuable assets to the healthcare industry. Here are some benefits of the NRCMA certification:

  1. Accredited by NAHP: The NRCMA certification is accredited by NAHP, which makes it a highly trusted option amongst other medical assisting credentials. The NRCMA certification represents credibility and excellence in the medical assisting field.
  2. High employment rates: According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 16% from 2021 to 2031. Medical assistants with certifications and additional specialized skills are expected to have higher employment chances.
  3. Flexibility: The NRCMA exam is also conducted through a computer-based format, which is a flexible yet efficient alternative to traditional (paper-pencil) exams. NRCMAs may also choose to work in favorable shifts as per their preference.
  4. Recertification: The recertification exam for NRCMA aspirants is conducted every 5 years, which is among the most extended re-certification cycles amongst other certifications, such as CMA (5 years), RMA (3 years), CCMA (2 years), etc. The purpose of the renewal of credentials is to simply reinforce clinical advances in the medical assistant sector.
  5. Increased salary rates: It is evident that medical assistants with nationally recognized certifications have higher employment chances as well as better pay. Certified professionals are offered a much more favorable package, including better pay, insurance benefits, health insurance benefits, etc.

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

Fulfilling the eligibility requirements of NAHP is the initial part of the NRCMA certification process. Eligibility criteria are created to ensure the proficiency and credibility of a potential candidate. The documentation and transcripts that need to be submitted by the applicant to support eligibility must be within 10 years of the applicant’s application date. Applicant must fulfill one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • The candidate must complete a medical assisting program from an institute accredited by the Commission on Accreditation Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), or any other accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education.
  • The applicant must complete 2 years of medical training in the United States Armed Forces.
  • He/She must hold a professional full-time work experience of 2 years in the medical assistant field.
  • Applicants who have completed an accredited medical assisting training program must submit educational transcripts of all required coursework.
  • Candidates who have acquired work experience of 2 years in medical assisting must submit the Supervised Professional Experience form available on the official NAHP website.

NRCMA vs CMA: What’s the Difference?

Certified Medical Assistant Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant
Accreditation American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) National Association of Health Professionals (NAHP)
Eligibility Graduates of a medical assisting program accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES Graduates of a medical assisting program accredited by CAAHEP, ABHES, or any accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education
Renewal of Credential Every 60 months Annually
Exam fee $125 $75-125
Renewal fee $50 $65
Estimated salary $35,659 $30,940
Recertification process Continuing education or Recertification exam Continuing education units and Recertification exam

Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA) Exam

NRCMA exam is a certification exam accredited by the NAHP for medical assistants across the United States. The NRCMA designation is awarded to medical assistants with expertise in administrative and clinical duties. Candidates are required to fulfill eligibility requirements to take the exam.

Exam Application Process and Fee:

Applicants are required to register at the official NAHP website. The NAHP certification application must be submitted at least 2 weeks before the scheduled exam date for candidates taking their exams at an approved testing center.

The following documents must be submitted with appropriate application fees ranging from ($75 to $125) to apply for the NAHP certification.

  • NAHP certification application
  • Medical assisting training program transcripts, or Military training transcripts/DD Form 214, or Supervised Professional Experience form
  • Attestation to comply with the NAHP code of ethics and standards of practice
  • Payment of application fee: $75 per application ($125 for express processing)

Exam Format:

The NRCMA certification exam consists of both multiple-choice and other questions. The exam score result depends upon the number of scored items and not the pretest items. Pretest items are inserted in the examination for statistical purposes only. These pretest questions are dispersed throughout the test and cannot be identified.

The NRCMA exam is conducted in a traditional paper-based as well as an online computer-based format. The number of items in the NRCMA exam for both forms is 200 items. The duration of the online (computer-based) exam is 1.25 hours, while the time of the paper-based exam is 2 hours.

Exam Content:

The NRCMA exam consists of questions based on the medical assisting curriculum that comprises of subjects such as Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, Law and Ethics, Nutrition, Pharmacology, Insurance, Office Procedures, etc.

NRCMA Exam Content Outline:

Fundamental medical assisting: 114 Questions

  • Anatomy and Physiology: 11.5%
  • Disease: 7.5%
  • Medical Terminology: 25%
  • Law and Ethics: 3.5%
  • Nutrition: 3.5%

Clinical medical assisting: 60 Questions

  • Medical Procedures: 30%
  • Pharmacology: 6%

Administrative medical assisting: 26 Questions

  • Insurance: 6%
  • Office Procedures: 7%

Total number of questions in the NRCMA exam: 200
Total number of scored questions in the NRCMA exam: 180

How to Prepare for the NRCMA Exam?

  • Go through the entire NAHP candidate handbook to familiarize yourself with the application process, eligibility criteria, etc.
  • Get acquainted with the NRCMA exam content outline to understand the content distribution and format of the exam
  • Reach the testing center at the scheduled time and date; be ready to give the exam
  • While giving the exam, attempt easy questions first to save time; do not spend too much time on one item
  • Please read the whole question and interpret it correctly
  • Choose one answer for each question; the score will depend upon the number of correct answers

What to Expect on the Examination Day?

The NAHP maintains administrative and security standards by providing examination rooms that are quiet and undisruptive, and by conducting exams at ADA compliant testing centers. The exam will be monitored by approved proctors.

Candidates must arrive approximately 20 minutes prior to the scheduled exam time. Candidates who arrive 15 minutes late for the NRCMA exam will not be allowed to give the exam. A valid form of identification must be carried to the center.

Identification Requirements:

Candidate must bring a valid primary identification to be allowed in the testing center. The identification document must be original and valid.
Some primary identification documents that are acceptable include:

  • Government-issued driver’s license
  • Passport or passport card
  • Permanent resident visa
  • Military issued identification card

How to Get Exam Results?

Candidates who have appeared for the computer-based exam will receive their score results immediately after the completion of their exams. Candidates who have given the paper-based exam are expected to receive their exam score results after about 4 weeks.

The NAHP withholds the right to terminate a candidate’s exam score if the integrity and credibility of the exam are being compromised. Misconduct of a candidate may result in the cancellation of the exam result.

If candidates are unsuccessful at the first exam attempt, they are allowed to retake the NRCMA examination 2 times within the one year candidacy period with an appropriate nominal fee. To retake the test after the initial attempt, a candidate must wait for 10 days. After three consecutive unsuccessful attempts, the candidate must wait for 90 days after the last attempted NRCMA exam and begin the application process again by registering for the exam as well as fulfilling the required eligibility criteria.

NAHP Pass Rate:

To successfully pass the NRCMA certification exam accredited by NAHP, the candidate must acquire an exam score result of 70%.

When Do You Receive NRCMA Certificate?

Those who have successfully passed the exam will receive their official credentials and wallet cards stating their NRCMA designation within 6 weeks of the examination being completed.

How to Verify NRCMA Certification?

NAHP maintains a database of all active applicants. The official NAHP website can provide the certification status of the individuals. Employers, potential employers may visit the site to verify the status of the certification.

An NRCMA verification letter can also be purchased by professionals that can be sent to a potential employer or an agency. Certification status can be verified by contacting the verification department of the NAHP.

Recertification Requirements

To maintain the competence of the NRCMA designation, candidates are required to renew the credential annually. The one-year renewal is conducted to keep the professionals up-to-date with the latest clinical advances and to reinforce their knowledge and skills about the medical assisting field. To maintain the active status of certification, individuals are required to fulfill the following criteria annually:

  • Active status of the NRCMA certification
  • Completion and submission of 10 continuing education units
  • Payment of renewal fees ($65)
  • Submitting a copy of the current CPR card

The recertification exam is conducted every 5 years by NAHP. Each candidate is required to complete the supplemental exam to maintain the active status of the credential. It is an open book, untimed, un-proctored exam that needs to be taken individually through the certification portal, and it must be completed during that year of certification.

A nominal fee must be paid for the supplemental exam. A total of 10 hours of continuing education is credited to the applicants on their certification portal upon the successful completion of the exam.

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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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