How to Become a Registered Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants who want better job prospects choose to get certified by taking a certification exam. Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification exam accredited by the American Medical Technologists (AMT) is one of the most trusted exams to get the credential.
To become an RMA, applicants must first check their eligibility status and then apply for the exam online. After applying, start preparing for the exam by studying the syllabus. To take the exam, you must schedule it in advance. You can either take the RMA exam at your school or at your nearest Pearson VUE testing center. An identification proof is required to appear for the test.
What is a Registered Medical Assistant?
A registered medical assistant is a medical assistant who has taken and passed the RMA certification exam accredited by AMT after the successful completion of their medical assisting training program. Medical assistants with the RMA credential work in healthcare facilities such as clinics, medical offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers to manage clinical and administrative tasks.
How to Get Certified as RMA?
To receive the RMA credential, applicants must meet one of the following eligibility criteria:
- Candidate must be a graduate within the past 4 years from an accredited medical assisting program. The medical assisting program must include at least 720 clock hours along with a 160 hours long externship in its curriculum.
- Candidate must be a high school graduate and have a work experience of at least 5 years as a medical assistant, employed by an authorized physician. Candidates must also receive Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training.
- A candidate who has served in the military must be a graduate within the past 4 years from a formal medical services training program of the United States Armed Forces.
- Candidate must be a current instructor at an accredited medical assisting program with 5 years long full time teaching experience.
5 Benefits of Being a Registered Medical Assistant
A lot of medical assisting candidates are opting to get certified for better job opportunities. Following are some benefits of being a Registered Medical Assistant:
- Minimum education requirements: Medical assistants don’t have to necessarily enroll themselves in a medical assisting program; they can get certified and work as an RMA without any degree. This means that there are very few education investments required.
- Varied job profiles: Registered medical assistants have a wide range of different work environments to choose from. They can either do administrative tasks or clinical duties, depending on the facility they are working in. Some are even required to do both. RMAs can also work in a specialized medical department such as gynecology, pediatrics, etc.
- Less competition: Employers tend to choose credentialed medical assistants over non-credentialed as they can offer more services and can perform certain tasks they are allowed to do by the state law. Thus, being credentialed as an RMA can help you stand out in the crowd.
- Increased demand: There is an increased demand for medical assistants, precisely there is going to be a 23% elevation in demand for medical assistants from 2018 to 2028, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Flexible hours: Other healthcare professionals like doctors or nurses have an intense work schedule, which is extremely unpredictable. Whereas their medical assistant counterparts have more flexible hours, they can even choose to work part-time.
What are the Education and Training Requirements?
Education: Applicants must have enrolled and graduated from a medical assisting program within the past 4 years. The program must have 720 clock hours and an externship of 160 clock hours in its curriculum. The training program must be accredited by an agency approved by the US Department of Education (DoE). Applicants are also required to submit their final transcripts from the school to verify their graduation status.
On Job Training: Applicants with work experience are eligible to take the exam if they have been employed as a medical assistant by an authorized physician or a healthcare facility within the last 5 years. The work experience is required to be full time. Applicants must also be certified in CPR training accredited by the American Heart Association. High school diploma, documented work experience, and a valid CPR card copy must be submitted by the applicant.
Certification Exam: Considering the applicants meet the given eligibility criteria, they must apply for the exam online and then schedule it. At the exam site, applicants are required to follow some identification procedures. They are required to bring a photo identification proof in the form of driver’s licensure, passport, state identification card, etc.
Skills required to become a Registered Medical Assistant
Needless to say, the demand for medical assistants is growing for a reason. They are incredibly sufficient for their employers, as they do it all from performing phlebotomy tasks to medical billing with a smile. The skills required to become a registered medical assistant are mentioned below, divided into administrative and clinical sectors:
- Having good communication skills
- Understanding insurance protocols and regulations
- Managing clinical emergencies
- Having skilled knowledge about technology
- Being able to console efficiently
- Being positive and empathetic in an intense environment
- Knowing how to use medical instruments
- Understanding and implementing sanitary protocols
- Ability to administer medications
- Desire to help people in need
Registered Medical Assistant vs Certified Medical Assistant
Both the registered and certified medical assistants have nationally recognized credentials. They have a lot of similarities as well as dissimilarities between them.
|Certified Medical Assistant||Registered Medical Assistant|
|Accreditation||American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)||American Medical Technologists (AMT)|
|Eligibility||Graduates of a medical assisting program accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES||Graduates of a medical assisting program within the past 4 years. Full-time work experience at a recognized facility within the past 5 years.|
|Renewal of Credential||Every 60 months||Annually|
|Recertification process||Continuing education or recertification exam||Certification Continuation Program (CCP) or recertification exam|
Job Duties of a Registered Medical Assistant
Medical assistants thrive on making the lives of other people much more manageable. They are empathetic individuals who deal with patients having severe illnesses or other problems. They work in a very intense environment where lives are on the stake; thus, there is no scope of any error.
Registered Medical Assistants mostly manage the administrative and clinical duties in a medical facility. These duties are varied in nature and depend on the job profile of the MA. Some require communication skills, while some need technological skills.
Job duties of a medical assistant:
- Managing schedules and appointments
- Communicating information to patients regarding diagnosis and treatment
- Determining insurance eligibility of the patient and implementing insurance protocols and regulations
- Recording the patient’s medical history
- Preparing medical charts
- Operating technological tasks such as scanning documents or using the EHR machine
- Taking vitals (height, weight, age, etc.)
- Administering injections or certain procedures advised by the physician
- Performing phlebotomy duties and laboratory tests
- Preparing medical rooms
- Sterilizing clinical instruments
- Disposing of contaminated supplies
- Instructing patients about medications and treatments
Job Growth and Prospects for RMA
The job growth for medical assistants is estimated to happen at a rate of 23% from 2018 to 2028, according to the data generated by the BLS. This job growth average for MAs is much higher than the average job growth of any other occupation, which is a result of increased demand for medical facilities and physicians.
The baby boomer generation is turning into senior citizens who are now prone to various disorders, medical conditions, viruses, etc. Therefore medical assistants are hired more and more to ensure the professional assistance of medical personnel.
Registered medical assistants can choose from various career specialties as they can work in specified medical departments such as gynecology, pediatrics, ophthalmology, and podiatry clinics, as per their interest. They can also choose to work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, rehabilitation centers, etc.
Registered medical assistants perform administrative and clinical duties in various healthcare facilities. There are many other career advancement opportunities and jobs available for medical assistants, such as medical assistant instructors, registered nurses, healthcare administrators, and many more. These options are available for the betterment of their future so that MAs can use their full potential to survive in this competitive age.
How Much do Registered Medical Assistants Make?
|Occupation||Employment||Hourly Mean Wage ($)||Annual Mean Wage ($)|
|Offices of Physicians||408350||17.06||35490|
|Offices of Dentists||4200||18.87||39250|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||58730||15.65||32540|
|Offices of Chiropractors||27740||15.41||32040|
|Offices of Optometrists||12430||15.79||32840|
|Offices of Mental Health Practitioners||460||16.83||35010|
|Outpatient Care Centers||57930||18.84||39190|
|Hospitals (including private, state, and local government hospitals)||107780||17.87||37170|
|Vocational Rehabilitation Services||110||14.72||30620|
Source: BLS (as of May 2019)
To maintain the status as an active Registered Medical Assistant, medical assistants have to recertify their credentials by paying an annual renewal fee of $60 or demonstrate compliance with the Certification Continuation Program (CCP) every three years. CCP requires AMT certified members to document activities supporting the continuation of AMT certification every three years.
The members are required to obtain 30 points in 3 years to comply with CCP. If medical assistants fail to pay the annual fee or comply with CCP, they have to take the recertification exam by AMT. Submission of all the required forms and documents is necessary.
The recertification by CCP application must be submitted with supporting documentation that verifies participation in all stated activities totaling the required number of points. The application for the recertification program must be processed. Applicants will have to follow the same steps they took initially for the RMA certification exam. A recertification fee of $204 must be paid, and 30 points must be obtained to comply with the certification continuation program.
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.