Before you can work as a medical assistant, many employers require or prefer that you take the medical assistant certification test (CMA exam). It’s clear that some medical assistant programs will prepare you for the test better than others, but before you enroll in a school, do your research! If your medical assistant program isn’t accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), you won’t be eligible – and therefore, you won’t be allowed – to take the medical assistant certification test. No exceptions. Schools that haven’t been accredited or were not accredited recently enough might offer medical assistant programs, but those programs will not make it easy for you to find a job.
What is the medical assistant certification test, and why do I need to take it?
The Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam is administered virtually (on a computer). It has 200 multiple-choice questions related to anatomy, patient care, medical terminology and ethics, etc. After you take the test, you’ll find out whether you passed right away. After that, the National Board of Medical Examiners will take 6 to 10 weeks to mail you an official copy of your score.
Not all employers require medical assistants to pass the medical assistant certification test, but most medical assistants to obtain certifications. Being uncertified makes it more difficult to get hired (or get hired in a desirable position) as a medical assistant. Though there are other medical assistant certification tests, CMA is considered the most important and is recognized by the largest number of healthcare professionals.
What’s accreditation, anyway?
Accreditation in general is a kind of review performed by an organization called an accrediting agency on another organization or part of an organization. During accreditation, the accrediting agency ensures that the organization or business meets certain criteria and standards. Healthcare and education providers as well as individual service providers may be accredited, and accreditation of schools and educational programs is often the most stringent. Accreditation usually lasts for several years, after which the organization needs to renew its accreditation.
At ACHT, the accreditation process takes almost a year. Accreditation professionals visit all three of our campuses, review our financial and business documents, interview our staff, and examine our facilities. Maintaining accreditation is an investment in our reputation as a school and in our students’ success – we know that if we keep our school and program accreditations current, our students will have more job opportunities when they leave us.
Anything else I need to know?
The most important point in this article is that you can’t take the CMA medical assistant certification test without attending a properly accredited school and program first. But attending an accredited school has other benefits as well; some financial aid options, for example, are available only to students who attend accredited schools and programs. Also, if you decide to transfer to a different school, your credits are more likely to transfer with you.
Curious about the medical assistant certification test or a career in healthcare? We’re here to help, so contact us today.