By passing the medical assistant certification exam, you can put yourself on the fast track to higher pay and better job opportunities in the medical assisting profession. Most certification programs are only nine months to a year in duration, and many of them can be completed online while you continue to work in your current job. Not only that, but most online medical assistant programs are quite affordable, costing about half of what a student would expect to pay for a two-year associate degree program.
While it is true that certification has not been traditionally required to become a medical assistant, an increasing number of today’s employers are demanding that job applicants be certified. Earning a certification shows a serious commitment to your career, and proves to a prospective employer that you already have enough training to hit the ground running at full speed if you are hired. Registered Medical Assistants (RMAs) and Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs) also typically earn salaries that place them at the top of their profession, so there are definitely plenty of benefits to becoming certified.
Who Can Take a Medical Assistant Certification Exam?
The major licensing bodies that oversee medical assistant certification are the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), American Medical Technologists (AMT), and American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Despite the fact that only graduates from AAMA-accredited certification programs can earn the title CMA, the reality is that there is almost no difference between becoming certified by one organization or the other, and all have very similar requirements for being allowed to sit for their particular exam.
Generally speaking, to be qualified to take a medical assistant certification exam, an individual must have either graduated from an accredited medical assistant program or have the equivalent of five years of work experience in the field. Contrary to a popular misconception, none of the three aforementioned organizations requires you to earn an associate’s degree prior to sitting for the test.
What is on the Exam?
The material covered on the standard medical assistant certification exam tests students for their knowledge of both administrative and clinical theory, terminology, and procedures. In addition to anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, etc., most exams will also include a variety of math and other general skills questions. The purpose of this is to evaluate your overall ability to perform the daily responsibilities of a medical assistant.
The exams themselves are given in a multiple-choice format, timed, and are administered via computer at a professional testing center. Test takers are not allowed to bring notes, mobile devices or anything else that can be used as a reference into the exam. In other words, you’ll need to be relaxed, focus and sure of the material in order to register a passing score in the allotted amount of time.
How to Prepare for the Medical Assistant Certification Exam
There are sample tests available from multiple sites on the internet, and most test centers will provide you with study questions to help prepare for the exam. It is recommended that part of your preparation include sitting in a quiet, controlled environment and trying to answer 50 sample questions in each 40-minute sitting. By simulating the atmosphere at the test center, and the pace at which you will be tested, you can greatly improve your chances of passing your medical assistant certification exam and becoming either a CMA or RMA.
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