Certification refers to the confirmation of certain characteristics, professionalism, or skills and knowledge. This confirmation is often provided by some form of external review, assessment, or audit.

Certified Medical Assistant Credentials

Qualified medical assistants can have many credentials, which are formal titles, including certified and registered medical assistant (eg. CMA, and RMA), certified clinical, or certified administrative medical assistant (CCMA, CMAA),  or certified medical office assistant. One must realize that certification is not synonymous with licensing, since the medical assistant is not a licensed healthcare professional, however, having earned distinct credentials by means of certification is regarded as a mark of excellence by employers and doctors. In their role of the medical office receptionist at the front desk, front office administrative medical assistant, or back office medical assistant covering the clinical floors they are undisbutably essential to the proper function and execution of daily medical office routines in any medical practice, wherever they may be.

A certified medical assistant is proficient in many areas of the medical office, including medical office protocol, administration, machinery, devices, equipment, automated analyzers and medical office technology. Medical technology refers to the diagnostic or therapeutic application of science and technology to improve the management of health conditions. A medical device is an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including a component part, or accessory which is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body, and which does not achieve any of its primary intended purposes through chemical action within or on the body.

Examples of States that Specifically Mandate Certification and Special Permits or Licenses for Medical Assistants:

  1. Medical assistants who draw blood in California are required to be certified (!).
  2. Medical assistants who perform point of care testing in Georgia are required to be certified.
  3. Medical assistants in South Dakota must register. No person may practice as a medical assistant in South Dakota unless that person is registered with the Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners. An applicant for registration must have graduated from an accredited school or a school which meets standards similar to an accredited school and must meet other qualifications established by the Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners and the Board of Nursing.
  4. Minnesota law requires that any person who provides services that involve direct contact with patients and residents at a healthcare facility licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health to have a background study conducted by the state and will be disqualified from having direct patient contact as a result of any entries in their record or criminal background check.
  5. Furthermore, many professional malpractice and errors and omissions insurance companies now require that those who provide direct patient care, draw blood, or operate x-ray equipment to be properly certified and hold limited licenses to perform certain technical tasks in the medical office as part of their duty, such as an x-ray license to expose patients to radiological exams; only this way will they provide insurance coverage to them should something go wrong. Therefore it is safe to say that even though many state laws may not require certification, it is the employer and insurance companies who require it in order to be covered.

Certification is not to be confused with accreditation.  Accreditation is a specific organization’s process of certification.

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