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Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Certification and Training Programs

Learn about certificate programs and certification options for the aspiring registered medical assistant. Check the required courses and see the employment outlook and salary statistics for medical assistants. Browse the continuing education info.

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Essential Information

Medical assisting is an area of study that is offered through certificate programs at dozens of community colleges throughout the United States. After two years or less of study, medical assisting students could be eligible to take the American Medical Technologist's exam for national certification as a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA).

In addition to the required coursework, medical assisting students may complete an externship at an area medical office or hospital towards the end of the program. Admittance requires a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

Program Coursework

Medical assistants conduct health histories, take vital signs, draw blood, prep patients for surgery and perform many other duties under the supervision of doctors and nurses.

The medical assisting curriculum includes clinical studies and medical office management courses in office procedures. Specifically, students could learn to interact with patients, assist doctors with giving injections, update medical records and manage the daily operations of a medical front office. They might become proficient with keyboarding, word processing and other related duties.

Coursework also includes human anatomy and physiology, medical coding, lab procedures and medical ethics. They will also be introduced to medical equipment like x-ray or echocardiography machines.

Courses in the program cover the following topics:

  • Medical terminology
  • Patient care
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical billing
  • Medical procedures

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of supportive roles in the healthcare industry, including jobs in physician's offices, clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities and insurance companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assistants held 527,600 jobs in the U.S. in 2010 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that jobs in this profession were expected to grow by 31% between 2010 and 2020. The annual median salary for a medical assistant in 2012 was $29,370.

Continuing Education Information

Upon successful completion of a medical assistant program, graduates are eligible to sit for the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) exam, offered through the American Medical Technologists (AMT). RMAs are required to complete 30 continuing education points every three years to maintain certification.

AMT also offers numerous continuing education opportunities to its members, including online courses, annual meetings and publications (www.amt1.com). Graduates who are interested in obtaining a bachelor's degree might consider enrolling in a healthcare management degree program, which could increase job prospects and boost salary expectations.

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