10 Reasons to Get Certified in Medical Assisting
Medical assistants (MA) are one of the many entry-level positions available to those interested in nursing and bedside care. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistants may work without any formal education or certification in many areas of the country.
By 2030, MA jobs are expected to grow by 18%, much faster than average compared to other occupations. Although certification is optional, there are many reasons why you may want to be a nationally certified medical assistant.
The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers the most well-recognized certification — the certified medical assistant (CMA). On this page, we discuss 10 important reasons why becoming a certified medical assistant benefits you and your employer.
Top 10 Benefits to Becoming a Certified Medical Assistant
According to the AAMA, there are three ways a person may be eligible for the CMA examination. A candidate may have:
- Recently graduated from an accredited medical assisting program
- Graduated in the past 36 months from an accredited medical assisting program
- Previously passed the exam and is applying for recertification
You can maintain your certification by submitting 60 recertification continuing education units (CEUs) or passing the CMA exam again. However, you must not allow your certification to lapse more than 90 days.
There will be roughly 104,400 new MA job openings each year over the next decade. These jobs will open from expected growth in the field and from current medical assistants retiring or moving to other positions.
A national certification may not be required, but it is a solid way to further your career and open up new job opportunities.
1. Employers Prefered Certified MAs
There are several reasons why many employers prefer a nationally certified medical assistant. For instance, it is one way healthcare providers can protect themselves against malpractice lawsuits.
Having credentialed personnel helps lessen the likelihood of a successful legal challenge. Human resource directors of managed care organizations also place faith in professional credentials.
More states will likely mandate credentials for medical assistants in the future.
2. Certification Vouches for Knowledge and Skill
Certification demonstrates to your employer that you have the knowledge and skill needed to perform the job. A career as a medical assistant means you provide appropriate care to patients who can be seriously ill.
In addition to clinical skills, CMAs must also have administrative knowledge, including:
- Billing and coding procedures
- Office management basics
- Medical law and ethics
3. Being Certified Reflects Quality Training
Certification can reflect quality training. Candidates for the AAMA CMA certification examination must have graduated from an accredited program.
Research shows that the accreditation process influences the quality of training and education. Being certified ensures your MA training is of the highest quality.
4. Certified MAs Get Better Pay
Certified medical assistant salaries depend on several factors. On average, according to the BLS, medical assistants who work in states where certification is required often enjoy a higher wage than in states where certification is not required.
For example, nationally certified medical assistants living in Washington earn more than those living in Alabama, which does not require certification.
The annual mean wage for MAs ranges from $24,430 to $35,660 in over half of America. States where the average mean salary is $38,510 to $46,610 also have a higher cost of living. These include California, Alaska, Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
5. Certifications May Be Required
Becoming a CMA is a good idea because it may soon be required. Currently, a few states require medical assistants to complete a formal program. These include:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
However, as with other healthcare professions, the trend is moving toward mandatory education and certification. This helps demonstrate proficiency. It also increases the likelihood of better job performance, which can lead to better patient outcomes.
6. Increased Job Options
Certification increases your employability and job options. Your national medical assistant certification demonstrates your seriousness in providing quality patient care.
Especially in states where a certification is not yet mandatory, it shows your employer dedication to excellence. Employers seeking to fill positions in specialty fields, such as podiatry or pediatrics, are more likely to hire certified individuals.
7. Hospitals Seek Certified Nurses (Medical Assistants)
Hospitals are raising the standards for healthcare professionals across the board, including certified nurses and medical assistants.
Most hospitals seek to increase the percentage of bachelor's-prepared nurses and employ certified medical assistants. This helps lower malpractice risk. It can also improve the Joint Commission's evaluation.
CMAs are responsible for clinical and clerical duties. They can work in several healthcare situations, including:
- Physicians' offices
- Outpatient clinics
- Other areas where healthcare is delivered to the community
8. Certifications Validate Clinical Judgment
Employers seek out nationally certified medical assistants because certification confirms the mastery of knowledge and skill needed to perform job duties.
Patients, families, employers, and medical assistants all benefit from certification. Many acutely ill patients require specialized care from a team of skilled professionals.
As healthcare becomes more complex, to become a certified medical assistant demonstrates competency. Certification is a mark of excellence for the provider and the organization.
9. Access to CEU Resources
Many hiring institutions sponsor continuing education unit (CEU) opportunities, which can amount to free education. The AAMA requires recertification for CMAs every 60 months.
A nationally certified medical assistant may retake the certification examination or submit 60 recertification continuing education points to be recertified. Thirty of the points must be approved by the AAMA, and they must include administrative, clinical, and general education topics.
10. Increased Respect
Medical assistants work with highly educated healthcare professionals. Certification helps demonstrate clinical skill and administrative knowledge, which helps gain the respect of coworkers.
This respect can translate into better stability and the opportunity to request better shifts. Certified medical assistants also bring value to the organization. This, in turn, earns them the respect of their colleagues.
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