Medical Assisting: RMA vs CMA

Do You Want To Be a Registered Medical Assistant or Certified Medical Assistant?

When you graduate from a qualified medical assisting program, you may be asked to become certified before you can start looking for work in your area. Although it isn’t a national requirement to be a certified medical assistant, individual employers and each state has their own unique regulations. That’s why most schools suggest you take the necessary exams and get certified before you start looking for work.

The first step in getting the right education is to choose a medical assisting school that is accredited by either the ABHES or the CAAHEP. From there, you will need to decide if you want to become an RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) or CMA (Certified Medical Assistant)…or possibly both.

What is the CMA?

The CMA designation is awarded by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). After passing the initial test, CMAs must renew their certification every five years through a combination of experience and continuing education credits.

The CMA is traditionally recognized as the more prestigious of the two designations, and in some areas, it is the only one that counts in a professional sense. In order to apply for the exam, graduating students will be asked to pay $125 (for members) or $250 (for non-members). Test questions cover:

  • Administrative and Clinical Procedures
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Medicolegal Guidelines and Regulations
  • Laboratory Procedures

What is the RMA?

The RMA credential is awarded by the American Medical Technologists (AMT), a nonprofit certification agency that extends its reach over 60,000 allied health care professionals in the United States. In addition to medical assistants, the AMT offers certifications for Medical Technologists, Medical Laboratory Technicians, Medical Lab Assistants, Medical Administrative Specialists, Phlebotomy Technicians, Dental Assistants, Allied Health Instructors, and Clinical Laboratory Consultants.

You can only take the RMA certification exam if you have been employed as a medical assistant for at least five years. The test application fee is $95 and requires a $50 annual membership charge. The test covers the areas of:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Law/Ethics
  • Insurance and Finance
  • Clinical Medical Assisting

Which One is Right for Me?

Before you sign up for either test program, be sure and check with your state guidelines regarding eligibility to work as a medical assistant. You can also talk with area employers to find out what they look for in candidates.

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