Become A Registered Medical Assistant
The only real concrete requirement to be a medical assistant is education and training from an accredited institution, but ambitious medical assistants seeking career advancement are able to earn a number of different professional certifications. Students and working medical assistants alike can earn the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) credential offered through American Medical Technologists (AMT). American Medical Technologists is a nationally and internationally recognized certification agency in the healthcare field that allows medical program graduates expand their knowledge and professional opportunities. Many healthcare employers today only actively seek out medical assistants with an RMA or similar accreditation. To become an RMA, medical assistants must pass an examination and meet certain requirements set by AMT and the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
AMT offers four unique routes for applying and testing for the RMA (note that “recent graduate” means an applicant that has graduated within four years of applying):
- Applicant must be a recent graduate or be scheduled to graduate from an AMT accredited medical assisting program or an accredited school with a non-accredited program that includes minimum 720 clock-hours of training including 160 hours clinical externship (or as required by state law).
- Applicant must be a recent graduate of, or be schooled to graduate from, a formal medical services training program of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Work Experience
- Applicants who have been employed as a medical assistant for a minimum of five of the last seven years, of which no more than two years may have been as an instructor in a post-secondary medical assistant program. Also required is work experience in both clinical and administrative duties as well as proof of high school graduation. Full-time 40 hour work weeks apply.
- Applicant must be currently instructing in an accredited medical assisting program, completed a course of instruction in a healthcare discipline related to medical assisting, and a minimum of five years of full-time teaching experience in a medical assisting discipline encompassing both medical and administrative competencies representative of core medical assisting duties.
AMT offers detailed guides and charts that applicants can use to determine their eligibility for the RMA exam found here.
The RMA Exam
The actual examination for RMA certification covers an array of medical and legal material, and requires extensive preparation. The exam application and study materials are not free, but are relatively cheap compared to the benefits of certification. The exam application fee is $120, and AMT offers two full-length practice exams as well as an online review course for $175 total. The exam itself consists of 120 multiple choice questions divided into three parts and has a completion time limit of two hours. A general outline of the exam is as follows:
- Part 1: General Medical Assisting Knowledge – 41% of total test
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Law
- Medical Ethics
- Human Relations
- Patient Education
- Part 2: Administrative Medical Assisting – 24% of total test
- Finance and Bookkeeping
- Medical Receptionist/Secretarial/Clerical
- Part 3: Clinical Medical Assisting – 35% of total test
- Vital Signs and Mensuration
- Physical Examinations
- Clinical Pharmacology
- Minor Surgery
- Therapeutic Modalities
- Laboratory Procedures
- Electrocardiography (ECG)
- First Aid and Emergency Response
Benefits and Maintenance
Earning the RMA has numerous benefits to a medical assistant’s career. The most obvious and most advantageous benefit is that possessing the RMA certification automatically makes any medical assistant more appealing to employers. It represents functional advanced knowledge of the medical field and of the various duties of a medical assistant. Other benefits include membership to AMT state societies, access to many publications and national networking opportunities, Career Connection job boards, and many more.
To maintain AMT certification all that is required is payment of an annual renewal fee, 50$ for the RMA, compliance with AMT’s Certification Continuation Program, and abidance of the AMT Standards of Practice, which can all be found on the AMT website at http://www.americanmedtech.org/.