Working as a medical assistant provides excellent job security and a challenging career path. Although it may be possible to achieve a position as a medical assistant directly after high school, most employers desire a well-qualified medical assistant who not only have completed a specialized education, but also have become certified. Several different organizations provide a medical assistant certification in the United States. Attending an accredited education program is the first step to achieving a medical assistant certification.
Getting the Right Education:
To obtain a medical assistant certification, individuals must first complete an accredited educational program. Some programs enable students to earn a certificate within just a couple of months. As part of the coursework, students will learn about anatomy and physiology, medical law and ethics, patient relations, pharmacology, office practices, first aid and laboratory techniques. They may also complete educational components relating to administrative office practices and medical terminology. Many of these programs are offered entirely online, while others require some traditional classroom attendance.
An accredited medical assistant program helps the student lay the groundwork for acquiring a medical assistant certification. During their classes, they will learn all of the information that is necessary to successfully pass the certification exam. Without the medical assistant certification, the student is likely to have greater difficulty finding employment.
Once the student has completed their training, it is time to apply to one of the organizations that is empowered to bestow a medical assistant certification. Organizations like the American Association of Medical Assistants and the National Center for Competency Testing provide a comprehensive process for acquiring a medical assistant certification.
Generally, the first step after graduating from an accredited program is to apply to take the certification exam. This usually involves filling out an application form and paying a fee. The organization will require some time to process and approve exam applications. Once approved, it is typically the responsibility of the student to schedule an exam date. The medical assistant certification exam will usually take place within one to three months after approval of the application.
Before taking the exam, the student should spend a significant amount of time studying. Some certifying bodies provide study materials, and the student should make use of any books and notes they have from their education program. Some of the certifying organizations also provide online practice exams, which allow the candidate to build confidence before taking the actual test for a medical assistant certification.
After taking the written examination, it may take a few weeks to hear back from the certifying organization about the results of the test. Generally, these results are mailed directly to the student, who may then use their medical assistant certification to help them get their first job. Many of these certifying organizations also provide valuable networking and job placement opportunities. As a result, the process of becoming certified may also yield an offer of employment.
Why Become Certified?
Earning a medical assistant certification ensures better job security and demonstrates to potential employers that a candidate has achieved professional recognition in their field. In some cases, employers will not even interview a candidate who is not certified. Thus, achieving certification can enhance a candidate’s employability and their ability to command a higher salary. Most certifying organizations require that medical assistants periodically reapply for certification. This process of continuing education proves an individual’s dedication to excellence in their career and a desire to continue to provide the best possible care for patients. Achieving and maintaining certification implies a level of commitment and ambition that employers value when they are hiring for a medical assistant position.