FAQ: What is a Certified Medical Assistant? What about a Registered Medical Assistant?

FAQ: What is a Certified Medical Assistant? What about a Registered Medical Assistant?

Female doctor smiling at the cameraEvery now and again, we post the answer to a question our administrators and career counselors often see here on the blog, and one of the most popular ones is “What is a Certified Medical Assistant?” How is a CMA different from an RMA, and does a graduate need either one of these certifications to work in the field?

What is a Certified Medical Assistant?

The simplest answer to this question is this: a Certified Medical Assistant has passed a test administered by the American Association of Medical Assistants and maintained the certification by renewing it every five years.

What is a Registered Medical Assistant?

A Registered Medical Assistant has passed an exam designed by the American Medical Technologists. This exam is similar to the CMA test but not exactly the same.

What’s the difference between the two?

It doesn’t help to know the answer to “What is a Certified Medical Assistant?” if you don’t know how it differs from the other type of certification. In general, the CMA certification is a little more highly valued than the RMA certification – it is the standard certification, and no healthcare employers reject it. On the other hand, some employers do not recognize the RMA certification, and most notably, certain large healthcare providers in southern California hire only those medical assistants who have their CMA licenses.

Generally speaking, CMAs and RMAs are equally employable, and both have the same responsibilities.

Am I eligible to get these certifications?

If you graduate from ACHT, you are eligible to take the CMA exam. To become a Certified Medical Assistant, you need to be a recent graduate from a medical assistant program accredited by ABHES or CAAHEP. For the RMA exam, you need to have graduated from an accredited program and have worked as a medical assistant for no fewer than five years.

Do I need a certification to work as a medical assistant?

Technically, you do not need a license to work as a medical assistant. However, many employers require licensure, and you need to be either a CMA or RMA to perform certain tasks, such as phlebotomy. ACHT encourages all its students and recent graduates of the medical assistant program to take the CMA test.

Why do I need to renew my CMA certification?

Finally, as you learned in the “What is a Certified Medical Assistant” section, a CMA needs to renew his or her certification every five years. The medical field changes every day as new treatments, diseases, and methods are created or discovered. New technology and treatment methods make it easier to heal people, but not if healthcare professionals don’t know how to use them. Like registered nurses and doctors, Certified Medical Assistants need to keep up with these innovations. All healthcare professionals participate in continuing education at work and at home to make sure they’re up to speed on the most modern techniques and methodologies, and CMAs are no exception.

Now you know the answer to “What is a Certified Medical Assistant?” Are you interested in this career path? Contact us today for more information.