What is a Registered Medical Assistant and How to Become One? 

The Healthcare Sector is filled with small roles that deliver significant impact. One such role is that of a Registered Medical Assistant or, as some of us call it, an RMA Medical Assistant. Several questions surround the topic, including: how does someone become an RMA? With all of that and more at your disposal, this article will provide you with a straightforward path for you to become one. Let’s begin with the basics first. 

What is a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)?

A registered Medical Assistant’s job is to assist healthcare professionals such as physicians and nurses in a medical setting. The job may involve working in a direct setting with patients or being present at the front desk, delegating some duties. It is all diversified with medical assistants. You never know when you are handling a team, conducting operations, or when you are designated to a room of any patient. 

One thing is for sure that this field and this title precisely have a lot to offer; in terms of revenue, growth, career opportunities, exposure, and whatnot. Believing that RMA means medical assistants only work what’s told to them is indeed a mistake. You are often given the duty to command a team. With a brushed-up skill set, passion for serving people, and ability to learn & adapt, you can become a fine RMA. 

How to Become a Registered Medical Assistant? 

The process of becoming an RMA is no different than any other profession. During the tenure, you are given all the information regarding your profession and are prepared to indulge in a diverse health setting. 

Step 1: Know Yourself  

First, you need to know that a Registered Medical Assistant is what you want to become. You can have an overlook of the field by asking seniors. Insight is indeed essential to know the kind of setting you’ll be placed in, what is required to thrive in the field, how to keep a balance between superior command and a patient’s request — because it is all a natural order and request chain coming down to you. 

Step 2: Look for an Accredited Program 

To begin with, you need to look for an accredited program. Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the body that offers you accredited programs for RMA. While the diploma courses take one year to complete, the associate degree will ask for a tenure of two years. You can surf online and look for schools or institutions offering you programs accredited by CAAHEP. 

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Work experience is of the utmost importance in any field. Some institutions pick you directly from the college or school you are studying in. There is something else you should also consider. For RMA Certification, you do need to have work experience to be eligible in certain circumstances. Being an entry-level medical assistant, you would be guided by seniors. Everything from machinery instructions to medical terminologies will be taught to you. 

Step 4: Go on to Certification 

Now that you have a degree and work experience, it is time for you to apply for RMA Certification. As mentioned above, there’s some criteria for eligibility. It takes inexperience and more, which will be discussed below. As for the certification, you need to pass an exam that includes MCQs. Clerical Procedure, Emergency Response, and Ethics are some of the topics you need to prepare. 

Step 5: Look for Specialty Certification 

Well, there is no stopping you from becoming the most exemplary medical assistant a superior can ever have. After becoming a certified RMA, it is time to add one more feather to your hat. The title is called the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA). It dictates your capabilities of working in an advanced and complex health setting. Of course, the duties and responsibilities increase, but so does the earning potential. 

Step 6: Never Stop Learning 

There may be an end to formal education for you up until now, but there is no end to learning. And learning is indeed the difference between what you are earning now and what you might be capable of later. We say keep on learning through your superiors. Your degrees do not always travel with you; your personality does. A medical assistant with leadership skills, communication abilities, and accountability under his name is indeed a respected one. 

Eligibility for Certification 

Since RMA is a flexible certification, it allows both the newly MA graduates as well as the working MAs to become certified. Though there are some requirements to meet, none of them are too hard for any aspiring and dedicated individual. Here’s what you need to know. 

Agencies & Criteria 

To apply for the exam, you need to have proof of graduation and a transcript of your training program. CAAHEP and ABHES are the two agencies that are well known in this field. A program accredited by either of these is highly valued. Here’s what you need to have:

  • Formal Education: Individuals looking for the formal education route must have graduated from an accredited program with approximately 720 clock hours of training. Also, the program must be recognized given by the agencies mentioned above. 
  • Military Training: the United States Armed Forces offer training programs throughout the year. For medical assistant certification, you need to graduate from the formal medical assisting program provided. The thing to remember: The completion of the program must be done within the last four years of registration. 
  • Work Experience: You can still become certified by these two agencies based on your work experience. All you need is to have dedicated the last five years (out of seven) to the medical assistant field. Now, there are two requirements. You either need to have a high-school diploma or an equivalent of it to sit for the exam. OR you need to have five years of experience as an instructor. The thing to Remember: Work Experience must involve administrative and clinical duties.
  • Other Routes: This includes having a course of instruction under your name from a healthcare field related to medical assisting. If you have a certification under another body’s name, you may still need to pass either of the three criteria mentioned above to be eligible to become an approved RMA. 

Exam Details

The application for the exam can be done online by logging into the AMT’s official website. The cost is $120, and it’s good to know that AMT offers a wide variety of courses and tests to prepare you for the exam. As for the Exam Day, you can expect your examination to have 210 multiple-choice questions. The online examination results are offered immediately, while the offline ones take a bit of time.

For candidates who wonder if there’s the possibility of doing a re-test, yes, you can opt for re-testing within the 45-day mark. Although, a re-testing fee of $90 is charged. After every year, you have to renew your designation by paying a certain amount of fee. Pro Tip: Earn Education Credits; they can help you. 

Salary and Job Outlook 

When it comes to the medical field, the pool of opportunities seems to have an unmeasurable depth. The career path you are picking, Registered Medical Assistant, is indeed a way for you to become an individual with a good paying job in a respectable field. The salary and job outlook projection in the coming years look promising too. 

Job satisfaction among medical assistants is at its peak. According to https://www.findmedicalassistantprograms.org/salary/, San Francisco and Dublin are the highest paying cities for MAs. The stats by indeed.com also state that 35% of medical assistants in the US are satisfied with what they are earning. 

When you look at the Job Outlook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects around 104,400 openings for MAs in the next decade. So, you better start preparing for RMA Certification right now. This is a growth estimate of approximately 18%, which is more than a dozen percentile more than other occupations. 

Personal Skills You Need On the Way

Well, now that you have learned what you need formally to become a Registered Medical Assistant, you still need to possess something on your own; a Personal Quality Skillset. 

  • Patience: Working with Patients involves you having ‘Patience’ all over your body. There will be times when you are stuck between a superior’s order and a patient’s request; make sure you do the right thing. 
  • Attentiveness: Pay attention to every small detail. Your work environment will be filled with men and machinery all the time. Keep on monitoring to ensure that no margin of error is ever left unnoticed.
  • Flexibility: You never know what setting you’d be placed in. A couple of days, you are in direct contact with the patient, and the next thing you know, you are ordered to constitute a team to do a little research. Be like water; it always fits in without an issue. 
  • Self-Motivation: Keep yourself motivated. Rough days are a part of every profession and business. All you have to do is keep yourself from making an impact of it on someone else’s life. Be professional, contain yourself, and do the work. 
  • Be a Comforter: Last but not least, be a comforter under odd situations since you will be the first face the patient sees. Also, you are going to represent your superior. Make sure you are always there when someone needs you. 

These qualities will prepare you to maintain fluency in everyday work. It will help if you are an individual of high value for every institution you step in. 


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