What Is the Best Medical Assistant Certification for CTE High School Programs? Blog Feature
Betty Jean Schultz

By: Betty Jean Schultz on August 27th, 2020

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What Is the Best Medical Assistant Certification for CTE High School Programs?

NHA CMAA | Health Science | NHA CCMA | Medical Assisting

As a developer of health science curriculum we work with thousands of CTE health science teachers every year. Many of these instructors are looking to expand their course and certification offerings, especially in the medical assisting profession.

Because of this, we're often asked for recommendations on the best medical assistant certification for high school students.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the most popular medical assistant certifications according to teachers we work with:

  1. AAMA Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
  2. AMCA Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC)
  3. AMCA Medical Assistant Certification (MAC)
  4. AMT Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)
  5. NAHP Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)
  6. NCCT National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
  7. NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)
  8. NHA Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  9. NOCTI Medical Assisting (MA)

We’ll give a high level overview of the topics on the exam, plus the type of medical assisting careers each certification would best align with.

You'll also find some questions to consider as you decide which medical assistant certification is right for your students.

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1. AAMA Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)

medical-assistant-certification-aama-cma

The AAMA Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) establishes that an individual is in possession of the clinical and administrative skills required to work as a medical assistant.

The AAMA CMA exam consists of 20 pretest questions to gather data, and 180 scored questions organized into three overarching categories:

  1. General (28%)
  2. Administrative (25%)
  3. Clinical (47%)

The General category relates to basic healthcare concepts and skills, such as communication, professionalism, ethics, medical terminology, and more.

The Administrative category includes questions on administrative tasks such as being a patient advocate, establishing patient records, and scheduling appointments.

The Clinical category contains the bulk of the questions on the AAMA CMA exam. It focuses on common duties relating to clinical skills involving infection control, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic testing, and more.

Overall, the AAMA CMA certification is a good fit for students looking for a career that involves both clinical tasks and administrative duties within outpatient or ambulatory care facilities.

2. AMCA Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC)

medical-assistant-certification-amca-cmac

The AMCA Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CMAC) measures the knowledge and skills that are required to work as a clinical medical assistant in a healthcare facility.

The AMCA CMAC exam requires students to be proficient across seven topic areas:

  1. Anatomy and Physiology
  2. Phlebotomy
  3. EKG
  4. Safety & Infection Control
  5. Medical Law and Ethics
  6. Medical Office & Patient Care Skills
  7. Healthcare Systems

The AMCA CMAC is a good fit for those looking for a well-rounded medical assistant certification.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About the AMCA CMAC Exam

3. AMCA Medical Assistant Certification (MAC)

medical-assistant-certification-amca-mac

The AMCA Medical Assistant Certification (MAC) establishes that an individual has the skills and knowledge necessary to work as a medical assistant in a healthcare facility.

To gain an AMCA MAC certification, students must be proficient across seven healthcare topics:

  1. Anatomy & Physiology
  2. Safety & Infection Control
  3. Medical Law & Ethics
  4. Patient Care
  5. Office Administration
  6. Healthcare Systems
  7. Medical Terminology

The MAC is a good fit for anyone interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, especially if they are not sure about what specialty they want to pursue.

4. AMT Registered Medical Assistant (RMA)

medical-assistant-certification-amt-rma

The AMT Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) is a healthcare industry certification that measures a student’s proficiency in the skills and knowledge required to work as a medical assistant.

The AMT RMA exam incorporates 262 questions over four ‘work areas’:

  1. Anatomy and Physiology
  2. Administrative Medical Assisting
  3. Clinical Medical Assisting
  4. Clinical Patient Interaction

The Anatomy and Physiology work area includes items specific to two categories: body systems and medical terminology.

The Administrative Medical Assisting work area involves topics related to insurance, bookkeeping, medical reception, medical law and ethics, and human relations.

The Clinical Medical Assisting work area focuses on clinical tasks related to asepsis, sterilization, medical instruments, laboratory procedures, and minor surgery.

The Clinical Patient Interaction work area focuses on duties that may require an RMA to interact with patients, such as taking vital signs, completing physical exams, clinical pharmacology, and first aid.

The AMT RMA exam is a good fit for post-secondary medical assisting programs, especially in areas where medical assistants need both administrative and clinical skills.

5. NAHP Nationally Registered Certified Medical Assistant (NRCMA)

medical-assistant-certification-nahp-nrcma

The NAHP NRCMA exam is an industry certification that measures an individual's proficiency in the administrative and clinical skills required to become a medical assistant.

The NAHP NRCMA exam includes 20 non-scored items, and 180 scored questions categorized into three overarching sections:

  1. Fundamental Medical Assisting
  2. Clinical Medical Assisting
  3. Administrative Medical Assisting

Each section includes subsections that test the concepts and skills that would be required in a career setting.

The Fundamental Medical Assisting section focuses on foundational knowledge pertaining to anatomy and physiology, diseases, medical terminology, law and ethics, and nutrition.

The Clinical Medical Assisting section includes items related to clinical skills needed for medical procedure and pharmacology.

The Administrative Medical Assisting section involves tasks related to insurance and medical office procedures.

Overall, the NAHP NRCMA exam is a good fit for those looking for a well-rounded certification that provides opportunity in both clinical and administrative medical assisting skills and concepts.

6. NCCT National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)

medical-assistant-certification-ncct-ncma

The NCCT National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) certification establishes that an individual has the clinical and administrative skills necessary to work as a well-rounded medical assistant.

The NCCT NCMA exam consists of 15 pretest questions, and 150 scored questions over eight content categories:

  1. Pharmacology
  2. Medical Procedures
  3. Phlebotomy
  4. ECG and Other Diagnostic Tests
  5. General Office Procedures
  6. Medical Office General Management
  7. Office Financial Management, Billing, and Insurance
  8. Law and Ethics

The NCCT NCMA certification is a good fit for any student looking to be employed in medical practices such as physician offices and outpatient clinics.

7. NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA)

medical-assistant-certification-nha-ccma

The NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) is a multi-skilled health professional focussed on clinical procedures in an ambulatory healthcare setting.

Though, in a smaller healthcare facilities a CCMA may also take on minor administrative tasks such as:

  • Checking patients in and out
  • Assisting medical providers with exams and procedures
  • Administering injections or medications
  • Working with electronic health records
  • Performing EKG, phlebotomy, and lab procedures
  • Taking patient vital signs

The NHA CCMA exam has 30 pre-test questions and 150 scored questions that fall under seven topic areas called “domains”:

  1. Foundational Knowledge and Basic Science
  2. Anatomy and Physiology
  3. Clinical Patient Care
  4. Patient Care Coordination and Education
  5. Administrative Assisting
  6. Communication and Customer Service
  7. Medical Law and Ethics

Overall, the NHA CCMA is a good fit for those looking for employment within an ambulatory healthcare setting, with a focus on clinical skills and patient care.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About the NHA CCMA Exam

8. NHA Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

medical-assistant-certification-nha-cmaa

The NHA Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) certification establishes that an individual is able to perform the clerical and administrative duties necessary to keep a healthcare office running smoothly.

A medical administrative assistant may also be referred to as a medical office secretary or medical office assistant, and duties often included are:

The NHA CMAA exam incorporates seven topic areas into the exam:

  1. Scheduling
  2. Patient Intake
  3. Office Logistics
  4. Compliance
  5. Patient Education
  6. General Office Policies & Procedures
  7. Basic Medical Terminology

Overall, the NHA CMAA certification is a good fit for students looking for employment within a healthcare office, but not in a role that involves clinical tasks.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About the NHA CMAA Exam

9. NOCTI Medical Assisting (MA)

medical-assistant-certification-nocti-ma

The NOCTI Medical Assisting (MA) certification measures students' knowledge and ability to enter the healthcare system as a medical assistant.

The NOCTI MA exam is split into a written test and a skills demonstration portion. The written assessment contains 197 questions across 7 healthcare subject areas.

  1. Medical Office Procedures (12%)
  2. Foundations for Healthcare (10%)
  3. General Laboratory Procedures and Diagnostic Testing (14%)
  4. Clinical Practices and Patient Care (38%)
  5. Medical Assisting Safety (8%)
  6. Patient Instruction (9%)
  7. Medical Law and Ethics for Healthcare (9%)

After the written test, students will complete the performance assessment, which involves students demonstrating six hands-on skills:

  1. Positioning (9%)
  2. Blood Pressure and Pulse Measurement (23%)
  3. Electrocardiogram (18%)
  4. Visual Acuity Screening (21%)
  5. Lab Requisition Form (18%)
  6. Applying and Removing Sterile Gloves (11%)

When a student passes the exam, they receive credentials indicating they have the skills necessary for a career as a medical assistant.

Once a student has passed the NOCTI MA exam, they are eligible to take the AMCA CMA exam.

That makes the NOCTI MA credential a good fit for those who want to become a nationally certified clinical medical assistant.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know About the NOCTI MA Exam

Which Medical Assistant Certification Is Right for Your Health Science Program?

Many of these medical assistant certifications are very similar in the topics they cover and skills students need to know.

As a teacher, there are three questions you can ask yourself to help you decide on the appropriate certification:

  1. How do the topics on the exam align with your course requirements and standards?
  2. What are your students’ medical assisting career goals?
  3. Which certifications are accepted or needed by your local healthcare providers?

By weighing each of these medical assistant certifications according to these questions, you’ll be able to hone in on the best option for your health science program.

Where to Go From Here with Your CTE Medical Assisting Program

Once you’ve decided on a certification, you’re one step closer to helping your students enter the medical field. But now you need resources to help prepare your students for certification success.

Most certification providers have test prep materials such as study guides and practice tests.

But, the problem is, those resources don’t actually help you teach the content in your day to day classes.

We find that teachers (and students) have more success when they implement a curriculum that covers their course standards and aligns with their program’s certifications.

That’s why medical assisting instructors across the US have implemented our digital curriculum system HealthCenter21 to teach classes and prepare their students for their medical assistant certifications.

It includes thousands of ready-to-use classroom resources, assessments, student tracking features, and more.

Are you in need of a medical assistant curriculum that aligns well with your standards and certifications?

Watch our HealthCenter21 demo video to see if it’s right for you:

Prepare Your Students with HealthCenter21

 

About Betty Jean Schultz

Betty Jean is detail-oriented and pays attention to how the smallest details can affect the big picture. Her passion is to provide error-free curriculum to our teachers so they can spend time pursuing their own passions.

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