In this article, we will go into great detail to show you four great ways in which you can become a medical assistant in your local area. Sure, these may not be “easy” to do in the sense that they take no effort. Everything takes effort. But they are “easy” in the sense that they are all highly doable, and if you do put in that effort, you should likely achieve your goal of becoming a medical assistant.
So let’s get right to it.
Becoming a Medical Assistant Rule 1:
Attend the Correct Program
As with anything, education is highly important. You don’t want to be the student who invests 12 to 24 months in their education, only to realize their training isn’t as highly regarded by employers as originally expected.
But how, really, can you do this? Well, the first step is to do proper research.
We’d recommend you reach out to the schools you’re most interested in. Don’t just ask about the medical assistant program, but ask about how they support students once they graduate. Do they help you find volunteer positions? Do they have any favorable relationships with employers?
These things matter.
Secondly, and just as important, remember that certified medical assistants are much more coveted than a typical student who is trained but not certified. This is because more employers are utilizing Electronic Health Record (EHR), and due to a new ruling by the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), only certified medical assistants (or a CMA) are allowed to enter orders in EHR pertaining to medication, laboratory, and radiology orders to count towards the Meaningful Use thresholds under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
This means that if you don’t become certified through the AAMA or AMT (registered), you would be unable to perform this portion of your job. And it’s entirely possible that an employer will be less likely to hire you in the first place, because they will have a wide range of certified and registered applicants to choose from.
So how do you become certified? Well, each organization requires different things. But an easy thing to remember is to make sure that you attend an accredited program. In fact, you’ll want to make sure that your program is accredited by the CAHEEP or the ABHES. Doing this ensures that you’ve met a very important requirement put in place by the AAMA or AMT pertaining to anyone seeking certification as a medical assistant.
2) Understand the True Meaning of “Certified”
One thing that drives employers crazy is when a prospective new hire sends in his or her application and denotes that they are a “certified medical assistant.” But when the employer goes to verify that this is indeed the case (which is easy to do through the AAMA website), they realize that the applicant is indeed not certified.
So what happened? Why would someone tell a potential employer that they received credentialed acknowledgement from an association when in fact that never happened?
Well, aside from the few applicants that simply lie on their resumes or cover letters, there are a lot of medical assistants who simply don’t know what “certified” really means. And because of this, it’s severely hurting their chances of getting employed.
So what is certification? A CMA (or certified medical assistant) is a woman or a man that attends and graduates from an accredited medical assistant program and then takes and successfully passes the CMA examination given by the AAMA.
And as we mentioned above, employers can easily verify your certification status on the AAMA website, so there’s no point in lying about it pleading ignorance.
3) Acquiring a Certificate (or Better Yet, a Degree)
When you enroll in a program, you essentially have two very similar but distinct options. The first path can get you through medical assistant school faster and ends with you receiving a certificate (some schools may award you a diploma instead). The other path takes longer, but you end your time in school with a degree.
The advantage of a certificate is two-fold. First, you get through a training program faster, and because of that, you have the opportunity to hit the job market and potentially acquire a new position quickly. But the drawback is that with such a shortened time in your training program, there’s a chance that you won’t be as well prepared as other applicants who apply to the same job.
A degree benefits you more in terms of school than in relation to a job. Why? Because acquiring a degree means that you have transfer units available to you should you want to continue your education. A degree is also usually for General Education credits.
It’s possible, too, that a degree might aid you if you have the passion to one day move into a position of management, as well. The drawback to a degree, of course, is that it will take you much longer to finish school.
4) Write an Outstanding Resume and Cover Letter
You always have to remember that while medical assisting is a career field that’s expected to grow almost 30% over the next decade, it’s also a career highly sought after today.
And that means that you need to craft a resume and cover letter that really stand out from the rest of the crowd.
The first thing that’s recommended is that you review your resume and cover letter. Make sure there are no inaccuracies with your school or work experience, and make sure your grammar and punctuation is impeccable.
If you’re trying to craft a medical assistant resume with no work experience, that’s fine—do not panic. Perhaps you have volunteered in the past. If so, be sure to add it appropriately. If not, focus on what you have done, and how you feel you can add value to the company or office or hospital that you’re applying to.
The next thing you should do is observe what others are doing, and this is usually best done through written samples. Take a look online, perhaps places like Monster or Career Builder, and see what resumes for medical assistants are available to view or download as examples for what you should (and shouldn’t) put on your resume.
Remember, the goal here is not to copy these samples. The goal here is to appreciate how other people structured their resume (pertaining to the Objective, the Education section, etc), or how they conveyed their thoughts in a cover letter. Use these samples as a guide, and then build on that with your own thoughts and experiences.
If you follow these four easy steps, there should be no reason why you cannot become a medical assistant. All of these steps require simple research, awareness, and action—traits that any high quality medical assistant should possess if he or she already wants to find success in this particular industry.