One question remains: “Are medical assistants full-fledged professionals or merely semiskilled workers who constantly need supervision and regulation?” Since medical assistants must work under the direct supervision of a medical doctor, or other licensed healthcare practitioner they are not true professionals, however, it can be argued late into the night as to whether medical assisting is a profession or not. As with any group, the competence of an individual in a group will range from inept to masterful. The more skill a worker or professional possesses, the greater their pay will be, and the better their future.
Medical assistant certification in the USA is largely voluntary; the exams are held at different intervals, often annually, semi-, or tri-annually at designated testing sites for individuals who meet training and experience requirements as determined by the sponsoring organization. The best known certification bodies in the USA are:
- American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)
- American Medical Technologists (AMT)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- American Registry for Medical Assistants (ARMA)
- Certification Commission (SCMA(tm) credential)
- American Society of Podiatric Medical Assistant
Upon passing their medical assistant certification exam the candidate receives an official document from the organization to confirm that the person named therein has passed their standardized written certification test and is now allowed to use their proprietary credentials behind their name. Typically, the document shows the certified individual’s name, date of birth, certificate number, certification status, professional examination results, type of earned credential and any conditions or restrictions with an official seal. This documentation is especially valuable during job applications and in consideration for promotion. It should definitely be included in all job applications and mentioned in the cover letter, and resume.
Medical Assistant Certification Based on Experience
American Medical Technologists (AMT) along with some other lesser known professional membership associations grant certifications in different specialized areas and may also grant certification based on the amount of consecutive years of direct on-the-job experience, or military training, such as the Navy Medical Corps or US Army Medic. Certification exam applicants who want to take advantage of certification based on their years of continuous job experience can do so through their verification process—those who want to get certified must provide written proof of from their director or employer, a great opportunity for experienced individuals already working in the field but without having a diploma or degree from a formal training program.